The government again goofed on crucial economic data. On Friday, hours after releasing the eight core industries numbers for May, it revised downwards the output growth in these industries to 3.8 per cent from 4.6 per cent. This time, cement production was wrongly estimated at 22.1 per cent from the actual 11.3 per cent.
Coincidentally, the wrong reporting of data came on Statistics Day, celebrated on the birth anniversary of pioneering statistician P C Mahalanobis.
Speaking on the occasion, minister of state in the ministry of statistics and programme implementation, Srikant Jena, said ‘Industrial Statistics’ has been chosen as the theme this year, mainly because of its relevance in the context of economic development process.
The cumulative growth of cement output in April-May came down to 9.7 per cent from the earlier reported 20.3 per cent. Officials in the commerce and industry ministry, which releases the core sector data, called it a “human error” in data calculation. To its credit, the ministry was quick to rectify.
“This (misreporting of data) is really astonishing,” said Anis Chakravarty, senior director, Deloitte India.
Also, the April figure for the core sector, which was revised upwards from 2.2 per cent (calculated in the month of May) to 3.9 per cent in the afternoon on Friday, saw a downward revision to 3.1 per cent in the evening. The cement figure for April was revised downwards in the evening to 8.2 per cent, against 18.2 per cent as released in the afternoon.
However, a revision of core sector growth from 2.2 per cent to 3.1 per cent in April might be some positive news for the index of industrial production (IIP) that had recorded a growth of just 0.1 per cent in April. The core sector constitutes 38 per cent of IIP.
The core sector growth for April and May came down to 3.4 per cent post-revision from 4.2 per cent. These industries had grown five per cent in the April-May period in 2011-12.
Coal output grew eight per cent in May as against 3.8 per cent in April, which may reflect in the mining in IIP that has been contracting since August 2011 (barring February 2012). Coal production recorded a growth of 5.9 per cent in the first two months of FY13 compared to two per cent during the same period of 2011-12.
Natural gas remained the roadblock, showing no signs of a turnaround. It continued to contract for over a year now -- by 10.8 per cent in May, versus 11.3 per cent in April. “Natural gas production from KG-D6 fields has come down and supply constraints in this sector need to be addressed,” said Deloitte’s Chakravarty. Refinery products grew a muted 2.9 per cent -- yet up from 0.5 per cent in April.
Fertiliser saw a sharp contraction in output at 15.1 per cent in May against 9.3 per cent contraction in April. The sector is facing severe input constraints which need to be corrected, according to experts.
Electricity output recorded a 5.2 per cent growth, down from 5.4 per cent in April. Steel output grew 4.9 per cent in May, against 6.8 per cent in April.
Earlier this year, MoSPI had drastically revised down industrial growth figure for January from 6.8 per cent to 1.1 per cent after goof-up on sugar data was rectified. Last year, the commerce & industry ministry had revised down export figures by $9 billion till October of last financial year. Earlier, the government had committed an error in calculating GDP figures at market prices for Q1 of 2010-11. The figure was revised to 10 per cent from the earlier estimate of 3.7 per cent. The error was blamed on the use of a wrong price-deflator.