The government has reached out to the two members who quit the National Statistical Commission
New Delhi: The only two non-government members of the National Statistical Commission, including its acting chief, have quit over "disagreements" with the government on the release of a jobs survey and concerns about it being buried in election season. Acting chairman PC Mohanan and member JV Meenakshi quit with a year left in their term, over the delay in the release of a survey report vetted by the commission. The government has reached out to them and called them for a meeting. The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, which oversees the statistics commission, has also put out a clarification.
The data-collating commission now only has two other members - Chief Statistician Pravin Srivastava and plan body NITI Aayog's Amitabh Kant.
Mr Mohanan confirmed that one of the reasons why he quit was the delay in the release of the National Sample Survey Office's Periodic Labour Force Survey report for 2017-18, which gives data on employment and unemployment.
The ministry clarified that it was "processing" the quarterly data and the report would be released after that. It also said the two members had never voiced their concern in the past few months.
"Keeping in view India's strong demographic dividend and around 93 per cent of the informal workforce, it is important to improve measures of employment through administrative statistics and complemented by periodic surveys," the ministry said in its statement.
It said it had started bringing out estimates of new members in schemes like the Employees' Provident Fund (EPF), Employees' State Insurance (ESI) Scheme and the National Pension Scheme (NPS). The new members are "a good measure" of those in the workforce moving towards formal jobs.
The commission is mandated to have seven members. Three posts had been vacant before the resignations.
The latest exits underline the controversies that the centre has faced amid opposition allegations of gaming of data, for example, on joblessness and GDP.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram targeted the government in a series of tweets this morning on the statistical commission. "We mourn the death of the National Statistical Commission and remember with gratitude its valiant fight to release untainted GDP data and employment data. One more venerable institution died on 29 January 2019 owing to malicious negligence by the government," tweeted the former finance minister.