Why Report Assessing Highest Growth Under UPA Is Gone From Ministry Site

The back series data on Gross Domestic Product or GDP was prepared by the Committee on Real Sector Statistics set up by the National Statistical Commission

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The report said a GDP of 10.8% was recorded in 2006-07 under the Manmohan Singh government.


New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. The report said 10.8% GDP growth was recorded in 2010-11
  2. The Union Ministry of Statistics now says the report is a draft
  3. Congress says average growth under UPA-1 was 8.87%

An official report that suggests India recorded the highest growth under the Congress-led UPA has vanished from the website of the Union Ministry of Statistics. It was "a draft", the ministry now says of the report that has deeply embarrassed the government and triggered political sparring.

The back series data on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was prepared by the Committee on Real Sector Statistics set up by the National Statistical Commission and released on the ministry's website. It reappeared buried in the "drafts" section with an added note, saying this report should not be quoted.

Comparing the growth rates between the old series (2004-05) and the new series based on 2011-12 prices, the report said a record 10.8% GDP was recorded in 2010-11 under the Manmohan Singh government.

"Truth has triumphed. The back series calculation of GDP has proved that the best years of economic growth were the UPA years 2004-2014," tweeted P Chidambaram, who was Finance Minister in the Congress regime.

Mr Chidambaram said the average growth rate under the UPA-1 government was 8.87 per cent, during which it also clocked double digit growth of 10.08 per cent in 2006-07. In the UPA's second term, it was 7.39 per cent, he said, citing the GDP data.

The BJP hit back, with party spokesperson Sambit Patra saying, "Headline figures do not subvert the fact that Congress-led UPA rule was marked by reckless lending, macro-economic instability, high inflation, policy paralysis and highest corruption".

Joining the debate, Union minister Arun Jaitley said the policies of the UPA to promote growth led to macro-economic instability.

During the UPA regime, "fiscal discipline was compromised and the banking system was advised to go in for reckless lending, notwithstanding the fact that it would eventually put the banks at a risk. And yet when the UPA moved out of power in 2014, the last three year record, even in terms of growth, was less than modest," Mr Jaitley said in a Facebook post.

Statisticians say both parties have valid points. The UPA did a creditable job of recovering from the 2008 financial crisis, but this was on the back of massive fiscal explanation. But according to Pronab Sen, a former chief statistician and chairperson of the National Statistical Commission himself, these are known facts, distracting from the real debate: Is this the best way to calculate the GDP for earlier years?

"Unfortunately the whole political issue precedes the technical, methodological debate that should have taken place... that is why these reports are put out into the public domain," said Mr Sen. "Now that they've taken it down, that debate has been forestalled, aborted... and that is unfortunate," he said.



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