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Finance Commission says will 'reconcile data' after row over statistics

A group of more 100 top economists had earlier this year expressed concerns over 'political interference' in statistical data.

Press Trust of India  |  Mumbai 

Finance Commssion chairman N K Singh addressing media in Hyderabad (Photo: Dasarath Reddy)
Finance Commssion chairman N K Singh addressing media in Hyderabad (Photo: Dasarath Reddy)

The 15th will "reconcile data" from several sources for its report, said N K Singh, the panel's chairman, responding after a controversy over India’s key economic data

Singh said senior officials will study data over the next two days, but their work will not be about computation methods.

"We will try to reconcile and come to a conclusion on what we would consider reliable data in the public domain," Singh told reporters, adding the exercise will be carried out with the and the Reserve Bank.

"We may or may not succeed, but at least we must come to a conclusion that this is what we believe is the most credible before accepting it."

He was replying to a question on whether the row over data credibility came up at the meetings with economists in Mumbai as part of the Commission's two-day visit that concluded Thursday.

Singh said while the issue did not feature in the meeting with economists, and suggested that the panel took the decision of data reconciliation proactively.

Asked if the panel regularly carries out such reconciliations, he said the exercise will "be within the bounds of acceptable and appropriate prudence to do so".

A group of more 100 top economists had earlier this year held a presser expressing concerns over "political interference" in statistical data, and had called for restoration of "institutional independence" and integrity of statistical organisations.

Their appeal came against the backdrop of the controversies over revision of GDP numbers which indicated even in the note-ban year, the economy grew higher the top GDP numbers reported during the previous Congress rule, and withholding employment data by the NSSO that showed that unemployment had hit a 47-year low in FY18, leading to the head of the organisation to quit in protest.

They said for decades, the nation's statistical machinery enjoyed high reputation for the integrity of the data it produced on a range of economic and social parameters.

"Our statistical machinery was often criticised for the quality of its estimates, but never were allegations made of political interference influencing decisions and the estimates themselves," the economists had said in the appeal.

The secretary of the 15th Arvind Mehta said all finance panels consult the CSO to get comparable series for state macro numbers.

"It is a normal practice that you are looking at different sets of data and you are consulting with various organisations and then you are trying to build up a series of comparables for the states especially for comparable data from the states," he said.

First Published: Thu, May 09 2019. 18:59 IST