-The Economic Times
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Tuesday blamed faulty data provided by NSSO for the low poverty threshold in the country.
The poverty line for 2009-10 has been pegged at Rs 29 per day per capita expenditure for urban population and at Rs 22 per day per person for rural population, which has invited widespread criticism.
NSSO could be severely understating national consumption expenditure, Ahluwalia said.
“Earlier, the NSSO data used to cover around 80% of the consumption captured by national accounts. However, the discrepancy has constantly widened and it is too high now,” Ahluwalia said. “This is probably affecting the poverty data as well. The consumption expenditure is being understated.” Essentially, this means that if the data was accurate, the poverty line will be higher, but the number of poor will not change.
The deputy chairman, however, reiterated that poverty estimates data would not impact beneficiaries of welfare schemes.
“The government has explicitly stated that entitlements particularly related to food security will not be directly linked to the poverty line,” he said. “There should not be any concern that the poverty estimate will define entitlements.” Ahluwalia added that the 2009-10 numbers were not the best judge of the extent of impact government policies have had on the poor because it was a drought year. He said the real picture would emerge after the NSSO concluded its sample survey for 2011-12.