Consumer expenditure has increased in 2018-19, Union minister Rao Inderjit Singh told the Rajya Sabha on Thursday while terming reports of fall in consumption as a "misconception".
Replying to a supplementary question in the House, the Minister of State for Statistics, Programme Implementation & Planning said, "It (consumer expenditure) has not decreased, it is a misconception. It has increased in FY 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2018-19."
Speaking about a draft consumer expenditure survey (CES) report for 2017-18, the minister said the government has not published the report from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) as concerns were raised about its "ability and sensibility".
Singh noted that the report has neither been accepted nor rejected.
"Here we have not accepted it so far. It is not rejected and not been accepted. There is a difference between the two," said Singh, adding it was not accepted because of "divergence."
According to the minister, when any data comes before the ministry, it is rigorously checked for its authentication.
"Why it has been not been accepted? There was much divergence observed in the CES report and other administrative data sources like actual products as goods and services," he said.
"Concerns were also raised about the ability and sensibility of the survey instrument to capture the social consumption by the households, specially on health and education etc," said Singh.
The minister also stated that around 10 crore households are connected through the government's Ayushman scheme and get Rs 5 lakh medical insurance free per year and people are also not spending on education due to the Right to Education as it is free.
In the PDS system there were several loopholes that have been plugged and there are no expenses on that, the minister said further while pointing out that "the consumption has not decreased".
His reply came over a supplementary question raised by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, who alleged that the minister's reply was misleading as the data of consumption and expenditure, which is now in public domain, has shown a decline.
"It showed the lowest consumption in rural areas and urban areas in the last 48 years. Government then decided to discontinue the data. My question is that what the government found in the data that it forced it to withdraw," said Ramesh.