Days after the government termed the National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO’s) periodic labour force survey (PLFS) report as a ‘draft’, Labour and Employment Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar told the Lok Sabha (LS) on Monday it was approved by a top statistics body in December.
The government has not released the NSSO’s PLFS report for 2017-18, which shows unemployment rate at a 45-year high of 6.1 per cent, even after the required approvals were in place.
“For the year 2017-18 (July 2017-June 2018), the NSSO has completed (the) survey and submitted (a) draft report to National Statistical Commission (NSC), which has approved the same.
The NSSO is currently processing the quarterly data for the period July 2017-December 2018,” Gangwar said in a written reply in the LS.
The report requires the approval of the NSC after which it was supposed to be made public by the NSSO.
Earlier this month, two members of the NSC, including its acting Chairman P C Mohanan (a former member of the Indian Statistical Service), had resigned citing displeasure over the government’s decision to hold back the report, along with other reasons.
The NSC had met on December 5 in Kolkata to approve the report in which the Chief Statistician of India Pravin Srivastava, a member of the body, was also present. Other members of the NSC – NITI Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant and J V Meenakshi, a professor at the Delhi School of Economics (who later resigned along with Mohanan) - didn’t attend the meeting.
According to the documents reviewed by Business Standard, the standing committee on labour force statistics (SCLFS), chaired by former University of Calcutta professor S P Mukherjee, had approved the report in its 10th meeting held on December 4.
“The draft annual report, PLFS 2017-18, was presented in the 10th meeting of the SCLFS. After detailed discussion of the report, the SCLFS approved the annual report,” the minutes of the meeting stated.
The meeting was attended by officials of the NSSO along with experts.
The standing committee had also said that the annual report will be released as a single report, instead of multiple reports and “different aspects of labour force, educational characteristics, employment-unemployment situation among social groups and religious groups, etc will be brought out in a single volume.”
It also stated that the unit level data for the PLFS for July 2017-June 2018 will be released after the report is made public.
After Business Standard had published the findings of the report on January 31, the government had termed the report as a ‘draft’.
However, Mohanan has clarified in various interviews that the NSSO’s report was final after the NSC gave its approval in December.