Days after the government dismissed the new back series GDP data as “not official”, the chairman of the committee on real sector statistics, Sudipto Mundle, told The Indian Express that the estimates were the “second best option” in the absence of comparable data for earlier years up to 1993-94.
In an interview, Mundle, Emeritus Professor and Member of the Board of Governors, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, said: “The new series GDP uses very rich data — audited balance sheets of lakhs of companies — available under MCA21. But there are certain disadvantages, too. For instance, you could not use this new data source backward, because it didn’t exist. You couldn’t go beyond a few years.”
According to Mundle, this was perhaps the main reason why the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) couldn’t do it, either, after adopting the base year of 2011-12 for evaluating GDP data from January 2015.
“They were struggling. For a few back years, they could use MCA21, then for a few more years, they could use a private source, CMIE, which has a limited database. You could not get back much beyond that,” he said.
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The committee’s report produced new back series data, which showed that the Indian economy grew at a faster clip in two terms of the UPA, between 2004-05 and 2013-14, when compared with average growth recorded in the first four years (2014-15 to 2017-18) of the NDA-II government. In 2006-07, GDP at factor cost touched double digit growth rate at 10.08 per cent.
Mundle’s committee submitted the report to the National Statistical Commission in July, which placed it on the Government website. But the findings of the report prompted the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation to issue a statement on August 19 that “the estimates in the report are not official estimates and are meant only to facilitate taking a decision on the appropriate approach”.