With questions being raised over India’s economic growth data, the government has defended the 7.6 per cent GDP number put out by the statistics department, calling it a professional organisation with high integrity.
In an interview to PTI, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha cited IMF chief Christine Lagarde’s “complete faith” in the numbers put out by Central Statistics Office and said it is “puzzling” why people are questioning CSO’s motive.
While CSO has estimated that India’s GDP grew at 7.6 per cent in 2015-16, retaining the tag of world’s fastest-growing major economy for the second year in a row, the data has been questioned by some experts who have pointed to large ‘discrepancies’ totalling Rs 2.15 lakh crore between GDP estimates based on production and expenditure.
They also doubt the surge in manufacturing, highlighting the contrast with other indicators, including official industrial production data and a private purchasing managers’ index.
“CSO is an outstanding professional institution. It is completely independent of the government. It is doing the best it can to collect and process GDP and other economic data,” Sinha said.
But given the constraints, given our informal nature of economy, we think they have done an outstanding job”.
He cited Lagarde’s comment that she and IMF had “complete faith in the numbers that CSO has put out”.
Sinha hit back at critics for attaching motives to CSO data. “We may question their data, we may question their analysis. Certainly there is no basis for questioning their motives,” he said.
“So, the CSO was doing a fine job and with the best tool at their command, they are producing the number that they can produce under the circumstances.
“Given that the organisation has people of high integrity, the fact that they are willing to share their data and analysis in transparent way, I find it puzzling as to why people would question their motives,” he said.
According to the GDP data, the discrepancies in 2015-16 stood at as high Rs 2.15 lakh crore, as against (-)Rs 35,284 crore in the previous fiscal.
Sinha said it is for the professional economists to look at variability in data, but what is more important is the trend and direction of the number and which sectors are doing well or pose a challenge.
Admitting to “discrepancies” in the GDP data, which soared to Rs 2.14 lakh crore in 2015-16 or up to 1.9 per cent, Chief Statistician TCA Anant said recently that the government is making efforts to minimise them.
Some discrepancies in national accounts will always be there because of delay in reporting of information by various agencies including state governments but the effort is to report data as accurately as possible, he said when asked about the reasons of high levels of “discrepancies” in the GDP numbers for 2015-16.