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Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

New policy on official statistics in the offing

  • The new national policy on official statistics is based on the recommendations of the NSC and the UNFP of Official Statistics
  • The govt recently decided not to release the consumer expenditure survey 2017-18 after an expert panel recommended refining the survey methodology, data quality aspects

NEW DELHI : The new policy comes in the wake of certain leaked government reports on jobs and consumption data which raised questions about delays in making them public. The latest such instance was the government’s decision to not release the all-India survey on household consumption expenditure conducted by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation (Mospi).

The new national policy on official statistics is based on the recommendations of the National Statistical Commission and the United Nations Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics. The ministry had last year sought public feedback on the draft, which is now in the final stage.

The comments from the public have been examined for inclusion in the draft policy, said an official. The Economic Times reported on Monday that Mospi has begun work on a cabinet note on the policy that seeks to provide “timely and credible social and economic data."

India’s statistical system has been facing challenges in data collection from diverse sources across the country, which sometimes fails the official process of scrutiny and vetting. The government recently decided not to release the consumer expenditure survey results of 2017-18 after a panel of experts recommended refining the survey methodology and data quality aspects. The government noted that in the consumer expenditure survey, there was significant variation in the levels in the consumption pattern and in the direction of the change while comparing with other administrative data sources.

India’s statistical system also came under a cloud recently when former chief economic advisor in the finance ministry Arvind Subramanian said in a paper that India’s gross domestic product (GDP) was over-estimated for most of this decade. Subramanian argued in the paper titled India’s GDP Mis-estimation: Likelihood, Magnitudes, Mechanisms, and Implications, published by the Center for International Development at Harvard University, that the actual average GDP growth for the period between FY12 and FY17 may have been about 4.5%, sharply lower than the official estimate of about 7%.

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