In a last moment decision, the government on Monday cancelled a press conference on GDP back series, which was initially to be addressed by NITI Aayog Deputy Chairman Rajiv Kumar, Chief Statistician of India Pravin Srivastava, former Chief Statistician TCA Anant and acting Chairman of National Statistical Commission Manoj Panda.
The government said a roundtable discussion was held for estimating back series of GDP, wherein analytical information was sought and a follow-up discussion will be held shortly. “A roundtable discussion was held today under the Chairmanship of Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog wherein Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) and several leading experts discussed the methodology for estimating back series of GDP. During the ensuing discussion, experts sought several analytical information, which is being worked out. It was, therefore decided to have a follow-up roundtable discussion with experts shortly,” Anna Roy, Adviser (Data Management & Analysis), NITI Aayog said. After the roundtable, a senior government official said the government expects to release the GDP back series by the end of December.
The release of GDP back series is being widely anticipated after a report by Committee on Real Sector Statistics appointed by the National Statistical Commission (NSC) had earlier estimated that the economy grew at a faster pace under the UPA government from 2004-05 to 2013-14, compared with the average growth during the first four years of the current government.
As per the committee’s estimates, the average GDP at factor cost was 8.87 per cent during UPA-I (2004-05 to 2008-09), and 7.39 per cent during UPA-II (2009-10 to 2013-14). In contrast, average growth rate in the first four years of the NDA government (2014-15 to 2017-18) was calculated at 7.35 per cent.
The need for a back series arose after the government moved to a new base year of 2011-12 in January 2015 from the earlier base year of 2004-05 for national accounts. With the move to the new base year, the growth rate of the economy for 2013-14 was estimated at 6.9 per cent; it was 4.7 per cent on the 2004-05 base. Similarly, the growth rate for 2012-13 was revised upwards to 5.1 per cent from 4.5 per cent.
For years preceding 2011-12, however, the CSO faced issues for evaluating GDP with the new base year — due to the lack of availability of the MCA-21 database. In 2017, then Chief Statistician of India T C A Anant said that the back series was proving to be a “major statistical challenge” in the absence of data for earlier years, and declared “it’s not going to happen that quickly”.