Government working on to improve accuracy of economic data


New Delhi, June 19 (UNI) The Union Government on Wednesday said it is working on multiple aspects to improve the accuracy of the economic data.

India’s GDP estimation methodology is by no means a perfect exercise and the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation is working on multiple aspects to improve the accuracy of economic data, the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister on Wednesday said in a note titled ‘GDP estimation in India- Perspectives and Facts’.

The note comes in the wake of former Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian’s claim that GDP growth in 2011-16 was only 4.5 per cent, not 7per cent as officially claimed. He felt the new methodology for calculating GDP post-2011 had exaggerated true growth.

The Council said in the note that the direction and pace of improvement is commendable and as of today India’s GDP estimation methodology is at par with its global standing as a responsible, transparent and well-managed economy.

“If anything, the weakness of Dr.Subramaniam’s attempt to suggest that the growth numbers are over-estimated confirms that the estimation process is robust to spurious criticism,” it added.

The note provides a clear rationale for India’s switch to an improved GDP estimation methodology in January 2015. The new methodology that uses 2011-12 as the base year includes two major improvements, a) Incorporation of MCA21 database, and b) Incorporation of the Recommendations of System of National Accounts (SNA), 2008.

This change was in line with other countries that have changed their methodologies in line with SNA 2008 and revised their respective GDP figures. On an average, real GDP estimates saw an increase of 0.7 per cent among OECD countries.

As mentioned in EAC-PM’s press release of June 12, the note also provides a point-to-point rebuttal to a recently published paper titled ‘India’s GDP Mis-estimation: Likelihood, Magnitudes, Mechanisms, and Implications’ by Dr Subramanian.

The primary contributors to the note, namely Bibek Debroy, Rathin Roy, Surjit Bhalla, Charan Singh and Arvind Virmani — reject Dr Subramanian’s methodology, arguments and conclusions on the basis of academic merit and grasp of Indian realities. The note provides detailed evidence that indicates that Dr Subramanian has cherry-picked a few indicators and performed a rather unconvincing regression analysis to prove his hypothesis that India’s GDP was over-estimated post 2011-12.

For instance, the note highlights the absurdity in Dr Subramanian’s paper that selectively ignores tax data based on the argument that the period post 2011-12 witnessed “major changes in direct and indirect taxes”.

Interestingly, Dr Subramanian’s analysis ends on March 31, 2017, while the only major tax change (GST) was introduced on July 1, 2017. In totality, the note highlights eight clear points with supportive facts and arguments that debunk Dr Subramanian’s paper in entirety.

Going forward, Indian National Income Accounting is bound to change for good and an important step in accomplishing that will involve criticism from experts and academics. But the country’s interests are not served by imparting sensationalism through negativity that questions the credibility of the system.


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