Govt depts export data highly questionable

Updated: Aug 1 2005, 05:59am hrs
Contrasting figures of countrys textile exports given out by two departments of the government has created confusion and dismay. Recently, Ministry of Textiles disputed the textile export figures released by the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCIS).

DGCIS has announced that textile exports from India has gone down by 24% in the post-quota regime (since January 2005) while textile ministry claims that exports have in fact gone up by 20%.

The reasons for the difference can be many. Since DGCIS maintains data based on the value of exports, it could show a loss as there has been a decline on global prices of textile products after the quotas were dismantled beginning January 5.

Moreover, another great drawback that could have led to major incongruity in the export figures could be inadequate computerization of various ports. Since many ports are not yet computerized or only partly computerized, the umbrella officeDirector General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) may not have gauged the correct picture.

Interestingly, the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) which had been maintaining data of exports has stopped doing so since the scrapping of quotas. This has created a void in collection of authentic and timely data.

On the other hand ministry of textiles says that the textile exports have gone up. Indias textile exports to Indias two major trading partners, US and EU were up by 25% and 10%, respectively, the ministry maintains. Data about US can easily be authenticated by cross checking with its Office of Textiles and Apparel, it is a little difficult to cross check with the EU as it doesnt post the export-import figures as quick as its US counterpart.

Moreover, ministry claims that it has not received a single complaint from exporters that their business is suffering after the elimination of quotas. Neither have there been complains from any trade bodies.

While all indications point to the fact that India has benefited in the post quota regime, divergent figures given out by two departments of the same government certainly questions the authenticity of government figures.

Considering that there has been such a glaring discrepancy in the textile figures, it also creates doubts about other export and import figures collected by the DGCIS, the pioneer official organization for collection, compilation and dissemination of Indias Trade Statistics and Commercial Information.

For over one hundred and forty years this Directorate has been the principle authority on trade related information in India. However, if this kind of strange figures will keep on cropping up, its claim (as posted on its website) that The quality of information both in terms of authenticity and timeliness has made this organisation a veritable trade intelligence warehouse not only in India, but also across the globe becomes highly questionable.