Representative image (Photo: iStock)
Representative image (Photo: iStock)

Govt seeks to empower National Statistical Commission to audit private data agencies

  • Govt has proposed to give sweeping power to NSC on its authority over non-government agencies, which produce vital data
  • The Draft NSC Bill proposes to restructure the composition of NSC

New Delhi: While the autonomy and power of the National Statistical Commission (NSC) in the proposed draft bill has been questioned, the government has proposed to give sweeping power to the commission on its authority over non-government agencies, which produce vital data, such as Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).

The Draft NSC Bill put out on public domain for comments has suggested that if the Commission is of the opinion that any statistics produced by any non-Government agency is of public interest then “it may order for statistical audit in a manner provided under section 20, and where necessary, recommend appropriate action".

It does not stop there and makes compliance of non-government agencies to such an audit mandatory. “Every non-government agency shall render such help and assistance and furnish such information to an officer of the National Statistical Appraisal and Assessment Organisation authorised for the purpose, as may be required for the statistical audit directed under sub-section (1) and shall make available for inspection and examination, such records, plans, other documents and data, as may be necessary," it adds.

Former acting chairman of NSC P.C. Mohanan said it's very risky to thrust upon NSC such power because no one can say that CMIE should not produce statistics. “In India, all such agencies are free to collect data and interpret. You can’t say CMIE should follow a particular definition. The Commission should rather focus on maintaining public trust on government generated data," he added.

Mahesh Vyas, managing director and chief executive officer of CMIE, was not available immediately for a comment.

The draft bill proposes to restructure the composition of NSC. At present, the commission consists of a part-time chairman, three part-time members, chief statistician of India who functions as the secretary to NSC and Niti Aayog CEO who is an ex-officio member. Under the proposed new structure of NSC, the commission shall consist of a whole time chairperson, five whole time members, deputy governor of Reserve Bank of India, chief statistician of India and chief economic adviser in the finance ministry as the ex-officio member. Representative of Niti Aayog, whose presence in the NSC had become controversial, has been dropped from the commission.

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