Will ‘Clean Up’ Economic Data Gathering If Cong Wins: Chidambaram

Economists and investors have repeatedly expressed their lack of confidence in India’s official economic data.

Published
India
2 min read
File image of former Finance Minister P Chidambaram.
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Former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, in an interview to Reuters, said that his party will review the economic data collection process if it comes to power, amid doubts over the reliability of the current official data.

Economists and investors have repeatedly expressed their lack of confidence in India’s official economic data.

Chidambaram, however, insists that a Congress government at the Centre would tackle the deficiencies in data collection.

“We would have to set up a high-powered committee. First, to look at what went wrong with the data, and to clean up the data collecting and data interpreting process,” he told Reuters.

Faulty Govt Data?

Doubts over the veracity of government data had resurfaced after a new National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) report showed that around 36 percent of companies in the MCA-21 database, used for GDP calculation, could not be traced or surveyed.

“Out of the 36 percent out-of-survey units in MCA, 21 percent were found to be out of coverage and another 12 percent were non-traceable (which in number is nearly 4,000 units),” said the report.

Before that, another NSSO report had revealed that India’s unemployment rate was at a 45-year high of 6.1 percent during 2017-18.

This report had been held back by the government and had sparked controversy after two National Statistical Commission (NSC) members, including the acting chairman, resigned on 28 January.

As a result, economists and investors say they are using fast-moving indicators such as car sales, air and rail cargo shipments, purchasing managers’ index data, and in-house proprietary indices to track Asia’s third largest economy, the Reuters report added.

Selecting the right people for the job was also important, said Chidambaram.

“I don’t think legal backing will make a difference,” he said. “What is important is the kind of people who are put there, and the kind of independence that they are given.”

Voting for the Lok Sabha elections began on 11 April and will end on 19 May, the seventh and last phase of voting. Results will be declared on 23 May.

(With inputs from Reuters, PTI)

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