- Congress accused the PM of fraud after Centre revised GDP data
- New data showed GDP at 8.5% in 2010-11, down from 10.3% estimated earlier
- Methodological changes led to change in growth rates, says NITI Aayog
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today that the government's back-series data for India's GDP, which downgrades growth during the previous Congress-led UPA's rule, is realistic, credible and more reflective of the economy. Mr Jaitley's strong defence of the new data came after the Congress accused him and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "malicious and fraudulent jugglery" to hide the poor state of economy.
"The new series included the last two years of UPA government's data. In that the data for GDP under UPA went up. At that time, since it showed an improvement, they didn't have a problem. To make it uniform, the new method was implemented right from 2004-05. Now that the data revealed that there was a drop in GDP under UPA, they have a problem with it," Mr Jaitley said.
Data released by the Central Statistics Office on Wednesday showed that the maximum growth rate in the UPA years was 8.5 per cent in 2010-11, significantly lower than the 10.3 per cent estimated earlier.
NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said an extensive recalibration exercise using the latest data sources and methodological changes had led to a change in growth rates in the back series. The back series had been checked for its methodological soundness, he said, by leading statistical experts in two round tables. The government had "no intention to mislead or do something purposefully which did not reflect the reality," he asserted.
Chief Statistician Pravin Srivastava added that the methodology and concepts behind the data were consistent with international standards.
Former finance minister Chidambaram, in a series of tweets, called the numbers a "bad joke" and worse. "Niti Aayog's revised GDP numbers are a joke. They are a bad joke," he said in one tweet. "Actually they are worse than a bad joke. The numbers are the result of a hatchet job," he added, calling for disbanding what he called an "utterly worthless body".
As jibes of "Harvard vs hard work" were directed at Mr Chidambaram by the BJP, the Congress accused the ruling party of jugglery.
"A despotic Prime Minister and 'pseudo economist' Finance Minister have repeatedly caused economic mayhem by the ill-conceived decisions of demonetisation, a flawed GST coupled with tax terrorism. Faced with utter and complete rejection of the 'voodoo economics' of Modi and Jaitley duo, they are resorting to malicious and fraudulent jugglery of GDP figures to hide the enormous body blow caused by them to India's economy," said Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
In January 2015, the government moved to a new base year of 2011-12 from the earlier base year of 2004-05 for national accounts. Back-series estimates are compiled and released for the years before the new base year.
In data released yesterday, growth rates for all years between 2005-06 and 2011-12 have been downgraded to:
The growth rate for the years after the new base is estimated to be 5.5 per cent (2012-13), 6.4 per cent (2013-14), 7.4 per cent (2014-15), 8.2 per cent (2015-16), 7.1 per cent (2016-17) and 6.7 per cent (2017-18).
In August, a committee appointed by the National Statistical Commission had said in a report that the economy grew at a faster rate during the UPA rule compared to the first four years of the BJP-led government. In response, the government said it was only a draft, not the final word.
(With inputs from Agencies)
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