A broad-based “Standing Committee on Economic Statistics" set up by the government under former chief statistician of India Pronab Sen will seek to bring consistency among various government economic indices.
The 28 member committee which consists of experts from both within and outside the government will meet for the first time on 6 January.
“The broad mandate is taking stock of all economic statistics. The basic idea is to maintain consistency between various data sets. It is important because data is collected using various definitions and you can’t put them together," Sen told Mint.
The Indian Express first reported on Saturday that the new Standing Committee on Economic Statistics, with 10 non-official members and 16 official members, has been mandated to review the framework for economic indicators pertaining to the industrial sector, the services sector and the labour force statistics.
The new committee has been tasked with looking into datasets such as the Periodic Labour Force Survey, the Annual Survey of Industries, the Annual Survey of Services Sector Enterprises, the Annual Survey of Unorganised Sector Enterprises, Time Use Survey, Index of Service Production, Index of Industrial Production, Economic Census and other surveys or statistics brought before it.
Sen has been vocal against the government’s recent controversial decisions including effort to suppress the employment and consumption data. In an interview with Mint published on 1 December, Sen said when the statistical system is throwing up bad news, the government either suppresses it or tries to discredit it. “It is impacting not only the credibility but also the morale of the statistical system. You have been consistently questioning the professionalism of your statisticians. That’s a much more serious matter. The point is does the government have an alternative? If you don’t have an alternative, then on what basis you are going to take decisions on? Then it’s going to be what I feel rather than what is out there. It is a very dangerous precedence. Junking the consumer expenditure survey is particularly a bad idea because it is put to all sorts of other use as well. I think it is a very regressive step," Sen said.
Rathin Roy, director of Delhi based think tank National Institute of Public Finance and Policy tweeted: “The announcement of a committee to look at the Indian statistical system bringing in all stakeholders, headed by Dr Pronab Sen, is an important and welcome move. This is the best way to improve and maintain the high credibility of India’s statistics."