Under pressure, govt reaffirms pledge to statistical autonomy

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Published: June 11, 2019 1:07:32 AM

MoSPI had last month said only 16.4% of the companies in the database of service-sector firms are either closed or non-traceable, against 38.7% reported by sections of media, citing the NSSO report on services sector.

The ministry also said initial estimates of GDP tend to be conservative and the revision occurs when data coverage from administrative sources improves over time and get well documented.The ministry also said initial estimates of GDP tend to be conservative and the revision occurs when data coverage from administrative sources improves over time and get well documented.

Having faced flak in its first term for perceived political interference in the computation of economic growth, the Modi government on Monday re-affirmed its commitment to “ensure and secure the autonomy and independence of the statistical system to produce appropriate and reliable data by adhering to internationally-agreed professional and scientific standards”.

The statistical apparatus came under heightened public glare after PC Mohanan, acting chairman of the National Statistical Commission (NSC), and member JV Meenakshi, resigned from the NSC in January on ground the commission was being “sidelined” and that the government hadn’t yet released the employment/unemployment survey for 2017-18, cleared by it in the beginning of December 2018.

Commenting on the recent controversy over a possible over-estimation of the GDP growth after an NSSO report suggested that a significant number of firms in the MCA21 list — used for the computation of national income — are non-traceable, the ministry of statistics & programme implementation said: “The (NSSO) findings were analysed at the macro level and it was noted that majority of the companies had filed their statutory on-line returns with MCA and were not missed out in the GDP estimation.”

MoSPI had last month said only 16.4% of the companies in the database of service-sector firms are either closed or non-traceable, against 38.7% reported by sections of media, citing the NSSO report on services sector. It had also argued that the blowing up (of data) anyway doesn’t materially affect the year-to-year GDP growth, as much as the level of GDP.

On Monday, the ministry also sought to allay apprehensions about mis-classification of companies in the MCA data base, saying before it undertakes the Annual Survey on Services Sector, the issue of mis-classification of companies (where they have changed their activities declared at the time of registration) will be duly factored in and incorporated in the survey design methodology. These findings will also be used when the GDP series is revised to a new base.

MoSPI also said the IMF had raised certain issues on the usage of double deflation in the Indian GDP series and India has informed the multilateral body that the existing data availability don’t permit its application in India at present. It added that double deflation is used in only a few countries that have a Producers Price Index (PPI) to deflate the inputs and MoSPI is working with the commerce and industry ministry to finalise the PPI methodology.

The ministry also said initial estimates of GDP tend to be conservative and the revision occurs when data coverage from administrative sources improves over time and get well documented. “To improve this, it would require concomitant changes in the sectoral data flows and associated regulatory framework in the data source agencies to facilitate use of more macro modelling techniques,” MoSPI said.

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