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Another growth data goof-up by Centre?

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Maharashtra, supposedly the among states to India's gross domestic product, saw almost no growth in 2011-12, according to data from the Ministry of Statistics and Programme implementation (MoSPI). This has prompted economists to question the data.

Maharashtra, says MoSPI, grew just 0.96 per cent in 2011-12 (Rs 782,443 crore versus Rs 775,020 crore in 2010-11) . This is in contrast to 10.47 per cent growth in 2010-11 and 13.28 per cent in 2009-10. It doesn’t seem believable, analysts said. showed Maharashtra as the state with the least economic growth in 2011-12.

If the same data is not adjusted for inflation, the growth was a robust 14.63 per cent. This would mean Maharashtra had an inflation number at close to 14 per cent last year. “All states experienced inflation of 8-10 per cent but Maharashtra’s at 14 per cent needs an explanation,” said Pronab Sen, principal advisor, Planning Commission. Before moving to the Commission, he was the government’s chief statistician.

Per capita income had the same story. Maharashtra’s per capita income for 2011-12 was Rs 95,779, showing growth of 14.75 per cent. However, in real terms, it showed growth of just 0.55 per cent, at Rs 63,077.

India’s grew 6.5 per cent in 2011-12. Adding average inflation of 8.5 per cent gives a nominal GDP growth of 15 per cent (excluding indirect taxes) in 2011-12.

The Maharashtra numbers on the Mospi website baffled many, as there was nothing unusual that happened in 2011-12 that would have led to almost stagnant growth and inflation as high as 14 per cent. “The data does not seem right. The state GDP growth is definitely too low, while the implicit inflation looks out of place,” said Madan Sabnavis, chief economist, CARE Ratings.

He said the lower growth could be attributed to lower farm production and industrial growth. Vidarbha and Marathwada regions had low rainfall, but this doesn’t mesh with the numbers given at the time of the economic survey in Maharashtra, which pegged growth at 8.5 per cent for 2011-12. “Clearly, something is amiss,” said Sabnavis.

The Economic Survey of Maharashtra for 2011-12, released in March, showed growth at 8.5 per cent for 2011-12, by the advance estimates. Agriculture and allied activities showed contraction at 5.1 per cent. Industry growth was estimated at 9.1 per cent and services at 10.1 per cent.

The very fact that the economic survey came out in March, the final month of a financial year, signifies the state had rough estimates of the economic growth. Such a huge difference between the advance estimates and what is given on the MoSPI site has perplexed economists.

The survey says that the average Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the state for the period April 2011 to January 2012 for rural and urban areas increased by 9.4 per cent and 7.9 per cent, respectively, over the corresponding period of the previous year. There was no spike in prices in February and March that would have led to 14 per cent annual inflation in Maharashtra, economists said.

When asked, MoSPI officials told Business Standard, “We just upload the numbers that we get from the directorate of economics and statistics. These numbers are not checked by MoSPI before being uploaded.”

Earlier, MoSPI had erred on the Index of Industrial Production, when it had estimated the January 2012 industrial growth figure at 6.8 per cent; the revised figure was just 1.1 per cent. The difference was described as “totally baffling” by former finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Also, sugar production was incorrectly reported by the directorate of sugar as 13.41 million tonnes in January, against the actual figure of 5.8 mt.

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