The PMO has constituted as many as five committees to reform the system of the compilation of statistics on GDP, inflation, industrial production, consumption and employment to restore the credibility of official economic data, which took a severe beating after a new series of national accounts was released last year.
In a wholesale clean-up attempt, five committees have been set up to review data for GDP estimates, provide for mechanisms to ensure “data integrity” and come up with industry-wise .. industry-wise and geography-wise disaggregated data – something that is not available in the current system.
“These committees are expected to cover the requirement of statistics for estimation of GDP, data governance for quality, timelines and credibility of collected data and derived estimates, provide for data integrity and audit trials of a National Statistical System,” the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation said in a directive.
The exercise, according to National Statistical Commission Chairman RB Barman, will make monitoring the performance evaluation of data more effective.
“The enhanced transparency that will be available will go a long way for re-ensuring the credibility of the National Statistical System. A focused attention on district-level statistics will also serve the needs of the Human Development Index,” he said.
Through the committees, which are chaired by experts from various institutes, the commission also wants to put the fiscal statistics of the government – expenditure and revenue – in a centralized repository.
The committees have been set up as the National Statistical Office (NSO) is struggling with persistent doubts about the new series of national accounts that had triggered serious concern to even Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian and former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan.
The new series of national accounts, which changed the methodology of estimating GDP from the internationally followed factor cost to market prices, spiked up growth for FY14 to 6.9 percent from 5 percent estimated under the earlier methodology.
The new series continues to be questioned even now for the over 7 percent growth being out of tune with the IIP data. The Index of Industrial production reported a 2.4 percent expansion in FY16, while GDP grew 7.6 percent. This has left many wondering about the authenticity of the data.
The NSO is said to be preparing the back-series data from FY05 to FY12 with the revised base of 2011-12 to explain this sharp upward revision in growth in an effort to explain the spurt in GDP.
Barman explained that data on the government and the corporate sector, which cover more than half of the GDP, can be collected and validated online. Similarly, data on household sector and non-profit institutions, which is collected by way of sample surveys, can be scrutinized using advanced processing systems.