Govt heeds economists’ advice, defers releasing GDP back series data


New Delhi, Nov 13: Minutes before the back series of gross domestic product (GDP) for the base year 2011-12 was to be released, the NITI Aayog and the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) decided to “defer” it. The decision was taken at a meeting between the two along with economists.
“During the discussion, experts sought analytical information, which is being worked out. It was, therefore, decided to have a follow-up round-table discussion with experts soon,” said Anna Roy, advisor for data management and analysis at the NITI Aayog said. The release of the data could have put to rest all speculations that rose after the National Statistical Commission (NSC) came out with its recommendations on the back series data, which showed two years of double-digit growth in the UPA regime.
Sources in government said it was cautious about the data since it pertains to economic growth during previous governments. In addition, they said MoSPI officials were unable to answer queries raised by experts.
“The experts said a better understanding of the back series at the disaggregated levels was needed. In addition, the series needs to be substantiated with pertinent data used to formulate it, such as interest rates of previous years, which needs to be obtained from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The process would be complete in the next two weeks,” said a senior official. Questions were raised on the methodology, the econometric model and the assumptions made to arrive at the values for previous years. But officials present at the meeting said this was merely a “technical deferral”, the officials said.
“Back series formulation is a research exercise involving a multitude of approximations. Whenever there is a considerable divergence between the back series (Base: 2011-12) and the old series (Base: 2004-05), the reasons for it must be clear,” one of the experts present at the consultation said.