BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member Subramanian Swamy on Saturday alleged that senior government officials from the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) were pressured by the Narendra Modi government to dish out data to show that demonetisation had no adverse impact on the economy and the GDP numbers.
Speaking to a gathering of chartered accountants in Ahmedabad on Saturday, he said: “Please do not go by the quarterly (GDP) data; they are all bogus. I am telling you, because my father founded the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO)…. Recently, I went there with (Union) minister Sadananda Gowda…. He called the CSO person, because there was pressure to put out data on demonetisation. So they put out the (GDP) data (saying) that there is no impact (of demonetisation).
I am feeling nervous because I know there is an impact. So I asked the director of CSO, ‘how did you estimate the GDP for this quarter when the demonetisation was on November (2016) and you gave a printed economic survey report on February 1 (2017), which means it went for printing at least three weeks before. So on the first week of January (2017) you submit a report and you calculate GDP to show no impact. How did you calculate it?’”
“So he tells me, that the informal sector’s output last year as a ratio of the formal sector’s output last year, that ratio was applied to the organised sector in January. I told him that relationship has changed. He said, ‘what will I do? I was under pressure to give the data and so I gave it’. So do not believe in any quarterly data,” Swamy said, and told the audience to rely only on annual GDP figures.
Swamy’s comments come after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley dismissed apprehensions of negative impact of demonetisation and GST on the economy by citing a 6.3 per cent growth in GDP in the September 2017 quarter, which was better than the 5.7 per cent in the June quarter. Swamy added, “Don’t believe in these Moody’s and Fitches. You can pay them money and get any report published.”
A month ago, Moody’s, a global credit rating agency, had upgraded India’s sovereign rating after a period of 13 years. Later in December, another global rating firm, Fitch Ratings, had cut India’s GDP growth forecast to 6.7 per cent from it’s earlier projection of 6.9 per cent in September. The reason cited was the rebound in the Indian economy being “weaker than expected.” “We have got CSO… So rely on them. Our agency can, but do not push them to do something that they can’t do,” Swamy added.