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After 2 statistics panel members quit, Govt clarifies on jobs report, revised GDP data

Regarding the announcement of the back-series data, the ministry said the NSC had itself urged it to finalise and release it.

SNS | New Delhi |

A day after two independent members of the National Statistical Commission resigned over a disagreement with the Government, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation issued a clarification stating that “no concerns were expressed by the members in any of the meetings of the Commission in the last few months”.

NSC acting chairperson PC Mohanan and another member JV Meenakshi quit on Monday expressing concerns on the functioning of the panel including the release of the labour force survey results and the Back Series of GDP.

“I have resigned from NSC. We thought that the commission is not very effective nowadays and we also thought that we are not able to discharge the commission’s responsibility,” Mohanan told PTI.

“We have resigned from the NSC. Over the months, we have been feeling that we were not been taken seriously and being sidelined by the government. Recent decisions of the NSC were not being implemented,” Mohanan was quoted as saying by media reports.

Read | ‘Not taken seriously’: 2 national statistics panel members quit over disagreement with Govt

In the wake of the reports, the Ministry of Statistics claimed that it not only places high regard for the Commission but also values its advice and on which appropriate action is taken.

One of the concerned issues pertains to the government withholding the release of the results of National Sample Survey Office’s quinquennial survey for the year 2017-18 even though the commission approved the report.

Clarifying on the issue, the ministry said, “The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) has been designed to yield annual estimates of the labour force on employment and unemployment along with quarterly estimates for the urban areas”.

It said the NSSO was processing the quarterly data for the period July 2017 to December 2018 and the report will be released thereafter.

“Keeping in view India’s strong demographic dividend and around 93 per cent of the informal workforce, it is important to improve measures of employment through administrative statistics and complemented by periodic surveys. In this direction, the ministry has started bringing out estimates of new subscribers/members enrolling in large social security schemes like the Employees’Provident Fund (EPF), Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) Scheme and the National Pension Scheme (NPS). The new members enrolling in these schemes are a good measure of the numbers in the workforce moving towards formalisation,” a government statement said.

Regarding the announcement of the back-series data, it further said that the NSC had itself urged the ministry to finalise and release it.

“The official estimates of the back series of GDP were accordingly computed using the methodology adopted in the 2011-12 base year series and this was approved by the experts in the Advisory Committee on National Accounts Statistics, which is the appropriate body,” the statement read.

This was later discussed in the NSC, the ministry said adding that the methodology adopted by it for the back series was available in the public domain.

NSC is the top advisory body on statistical matters. With the two members quitting, the NSC now has only two members — Chief Statistician Pravin Srivastava and NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant.

The Ministry of Statistics further said that it was in regular dialogue with the other ministries and state governments to improve the availability and coverage of data which needs to be understood in the context in which it is captured.

In November last year, the NITI Aayog had come under fire for announcing the revised GDP data of the UPA years. NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar and Chief Statistician Srivastava had announced the back-series data by the government.

The government lowered the country’s economic growth rate during the previous Congress-led UPA regime, shaving off over one percentage point from the only year when India posted double-digit GDP growth post liberalisation and from each of the three years with 9-plus per cent expansion.

Recalibrating data of past years using 2011-12 as the base year instead of 2004-05, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) estimated that India’s GDP grew by 8.5 per cent in the financial year 2010-11 (April 2010 to March 2011) and not at 10.3 per cent as previously estimated.