Govt releases GDP back series data: Is it a revision of growth numbers or a political exercise? All you need to know

The government on Wednesday released the much-awaited back series estimates for India's gross domestic product (GDP) which showed a lower rate of growth during the UPA years between 2005-06 and 2011-12 than what was estimated using the earlier methodology.

As per the data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the maximum growth rate the economy achieved during the UPA years was 8.5 percent in 2010-11, significantly lower than the 10.3 percent estimated earlier.

NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said an extensive recalibration exercise using the latest data sources and methodological changes had led to a change in growth rates in the back series.

Niti Aayog VC Rajiv Kumar addressing the press conference. Image courtesy: Twitter/ @NITIAayog

Niti Aayog VC Rajiv Kumar addressing the press conference. Image courtesy: Twitter/ @NITIAayog

He said the back series had been checked for its methodological soundness by leading statistical experts in the country during two roundtables organised by the NITI Aayog in which domain experts participated to ensure the quality of coverage and methodology.

Here is all you need to know about GDP back series data: 

Why the data has been revised?

In January 2015, the government moved to a new base year of 2011-12 from the earlier 2004-05 for national accounts. The base year of national accounts had been revised earlier in January 2010. After the introduction of the new series, back-series estimates are compiled and released for the years preceding the new base year for completeness and comparability with old base data sets.

Chief Statistician Pravin Srivastava said the methodology and concepts incorporated to arrive at the back-series data were consistent with international standards.

"The recalibration exercise led to a change in growth rates in the back series and today's exercise is a result of comprehensive work," he said on Wednesday.

Kumar of NITI Aayog said the back-series data was "far more superior than the previous one" and that it was internationally comparable and in sync with United Nations System of National Accounts (SNA 2008).

"CSO today released the back series of GDP/GVA for period 2004-05 to 2011-12 with base 2011-12 prices. Used SNA 2008 concepts, latest data sources and indices for the back series. Methodological changes include institutional approach, reference rate method for FISIM (Financial Intermediation Services Indirectly Measured)," the NITI Aayog Vice Chairman said.

Specifics of the data 

As per the data released by the CSO, growth rates for all years between 2005-06 and 2011-12 have been revised downwards -- to 7.9 percent in 2005-06 from 9.3 percent, 8.1 percent in 2006-07 from 9.3 percent, 7.7 percent in 2007-08 from 9.8 percent, 3.1 percent in 2008-09 from 3.9 percent, 7.9 percent in 2009-10 from 8.5 percent, 8.5 percent in 2010-11 from 10.3 percent, and 5.2 percent in 2011-12 from 6.6 percent.

The growth rate for the years after the new base is estimated to be 5.5 percent (2012-13), 6.4 percent (2013-14), 7.4 percent (2014-15), 8.2 percent (2015-16), 7.1 percent (2016-17) and 6.7 percent (2017-18).

GDP back series data - 28 November 2018

Latest back series data in contrast to August 2018 report 

The back series data released on Wednesday is in contrast to an August 2018 report by the Committee on Real Sector Statistics appointed by the National Statistical Commission (NSC), the autonomous body that helps in collection of data by India's statistical agencies.

The committee had submitted in its report that the economy grew at a faster rate during the UPA period compared with the average growth rate during the first four years of the current government. The government responded that it was only a draft seeking comments and was not the final word on the matter.

On the downward revision of UPA era growth rates, the NITI Aayog Vice Chairman on Wednesday said the government had no intention to "mislead or do something purposefully which did not reflect the reality".

What the Opposition has to say?

The Congress on Wednesday accused the Narendra Modi government of "manipulating" GDP data of previous years and said it reflects a desperate attempt to undermine India's growth story over the last 15 years.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala termed the step a "classic" case where "the operation is successful but the patient is dead".

"The revised 'New Series' computed today by the Ministry of Statistics and Niti Aayog has completely undermined the NSC (National Statistical Commission), the autonomous body for deciding data transparently and in accordance with global standards of calculating GDP as per Market Price Linked Methodology.

"Today, the Modi government deceived the country by surreptitiously changing the methodology in order to manipulate GDP data. This is called 'Excel Sheet Management' i.e deciding the result first and filling the marks later. The new methodology is GVA-based, which does not take into account tax+ subsidies and consequently is extremely flawed to subserve the myopic interests of the Modi government," he said.

Senior Congress leader and former Union finance minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday said the revised GDP numbers released by the Niti Aayog were a 'hatchet job' and termed it a 'joke'.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Nov 29, 2018 12:25:06 IST

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