Nearly three years ago, the Central Statistics Office (CSO), had calculated back series data for GDP on the basis of the new base year 2011-12, which showed an upward revision in UPA-era GDP growth rate. But, in former chief statistician Pronab Sen’s words, NITI Aayog took just one look at the data and said: We can’t allow it.
Then, TCA Anant was the Chief Statistician, Sen was the Chairman of the National Statistical Commission, and Arvind Panagariya was the Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog.
According to The Indian Express, NITI Aayog, under Panagariya, did not allow the release of back series data. While Panagariya did not respond to the newspaper’s report, Anant confirmed the report. “Niti Aayog had issues with a particular proxy we used for corporate sector growth estimates,” he told the national daily.
Meanwhile, Sen, who was also present at the discussion where Niti Aayog rejected CSO’s analysis told The Indian Express: Niti Aayog took just one look at the growth rates which were going higher after 2004-05 and said, ‘We can’t allow it’.
Late last month, the government released back-series data, which lowered UPA-era GDP growth rate, following which Sen questioned the involvement of NITI Aayog in the process. The revised average annual growth rate for the nine years between 2005-06 and 2013-14 (all UPA years), stood at just 6.7%, against 7.35% recorded in the first four years of the NDA.
The official back series data was released months after an unofficial calculation also showed higher growth in the UPA-era, even touching double-digit growth rate twice.
The base year for national accounts was changed in 2014 to include more sectors into GDP calculation with an aim to give a more realistic picture of the economic growth.