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Experts back Modi govt on economic data quality; rubbish economists’ charges

Eram Tafsir

Days after 108 economists and scientists raised concerns on political interference influencing official data, through a letter, 131 Chartered Accountants have come forth to counter these allegations. They instead have appealed to the professionals around the world to come together to present the true image of India and counter baseless allegations based on political motivation.

In another letter, the CAs have called these allegations another Award Wapsi drama, which has been done to influence the upcoming state elections.The prominent personalities who have signed the letter include T V Mohandas Pai of Manipal Global, Nirmal Jain of IIFL, DK Aggarwal of PHD Chamber of Commerce, Shailesh Haribhakti of Haribhakti & Co.

In their letter, while there has been no detailed proof for the allegations, a reference has been made about revision in GDP series post change in the base year to 2011/12 and the non-publication of NSSO labour force survey, the accountants said in the enter.

The appeal by the economists seems irrelevant as the data published by the government agencies have been confirmed by international data and independent agencies such as World Bank, IMF etc. ,the accountants noted.

Speaking in favour of the changed method of GDP calculation which was questioned by these economists and scientists, the accountants have said that changing GDP growth is a regular feature which is done to ensure that data reflects the transition as well as the disruptions in an economy. The base years of the National Accounts Statistics
series have been changed in Aug 1967, Jan 1978, Feb 1988, Feb 1999 and 2006, the accountants said in the letter.

Moreover, the new GDP series introduced is also compliant with the United Nations guidelines in System of National Accounts-2008 and has better coverage of sectors including some unorganised sectors, the accountants added.

However, the accountants have admitted the possibility of some errors and omissions which can happen while collecting and tabulating data in a large country like India.