Three years ago, key statistics panel revised UPA growth up, Niti Aayog rejected it -P Vaidyanathan Iyer

-The Indian Express

Then Chief Statistician T C A Anant confirmed that the release of data was withheld. “Niti Aayog had issues with a particular proxy we used for corporate sector growth estimates,” Anant told The Indian Express.

In what adds a fresh twist to the controversy over the downward revision of UPA growth data, it is now learnt that almost three years ago, the Central Statistics Office (CSO), in the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, had finalised back series data for GDP following a change in the base year from 2004-05 to 2011-12. That exercise had led to an upward revision in growth rates for the UPA years but the Niti Aayog, then under Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya, did not allow its release.

While Panagariya could not be reached and did not respond to a text message and an e-mail, then Chief Statistician T C A Anant confirmed that the release of data was withheld.

“Niti Aayog had issues with a particular proxy we used for corporate sector growth estimates,” Anant told The Indian Express. There will always be some degree of variation in growth data, Anant said, adding that perhaps Niti Aayog should have looked at sectorwise data rather than aggregates (overall growth rates).

Then Chairman of the National Statistical Commission (NSC) Pronab Sen who was present at the discussion where Niti Aayog rejected CSO’s analysis, said: “Niti Aayog took just one look at the growth rates which were going higher after 2004-05 and said, ‘We can’t allow it’. There was a question on the robustness of relationships, for example, between MCA (Ministry of Company Affairs) and RBI data. There are ways of getting around this.”

The back-series data released by Niti Aayog and the CSO on November 28 said the economy grew an average 6.7 per cent during the two UPA terms, lower than the 7.4 per cent average growth rate during the first four years of the current NDA government.

When contacted, present Chief Statistician of India, Pravin Srivastava, told The Indian Express: “Every (GDP estimation) exercise is an evolutional process. The methodology we used is consistent with SNA 2008. It is not growth rate that you rework; what you do is essentially recalibrate the data with contribution of different sectors.” SNA 2008, or the System of National Accounts 2008, is the latest version of international statistical standard for the national accounts adopted by the United Nations Statistical Commission.

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The Indian Express, 7 December, 2018, https://indianexpress.com/article/india/key-statistics-panel-revised-upa-growth-up-niti-aayog-rejected-it-5482457/?fbclid=IwAR3xcMs7zwZ1iYjrSYg4E47wXqgRF_-rOzAPDH

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