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GDP back series data row: Arun Jaitley responds to P Chidambaram's Twitter attack, says CSO is a 'credible organisation'

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday slammed the Congress, saying the Opposition party had chosen to criticise the Centre in the controversy over the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) back series data only after the growth rate was lowered. He defended the findings of the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as well, saying it was a credible institution with limited links to the Ministry of Finance.

"The CSO is a highly credible organisation. It completely maintains an arm's length from the finance ministry. In fact, we also come to know of the data only when it's finally released," The Indian Express quoted Jaitley as saying. "I don't think any service is being rendered by those who discredit the highly credible organisation, CSO."

Jaitley was responding to Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram's remarks on the GDP numbers. He tweeted on Wednesday:

Chidambaram's comments came after the CSO on Wednesday released the much-awaited back series estimates for India's 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 CSO data, the maximum economic growth rate during the UPA years was 8.5 percent in 2010-11, significantly lower than the earlier estimate of 10.3 percent.

NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar said the change in growth rates in the back series was a result of an extensive recalibration exercise that used the latest data sources and methodological changes. Chidambaram had hit out at Kumar in his Twitter tirade, saying: "Now that Niti Aayog has done the hatchet job, it is time to wind up the utterly worthless body."

The Congress leader was not the only one to criticise the data. On Wednesday, the party accused the Narendra Modi government of "manipulating" the GDP data of previous years, saying it reflects a desperate attempt to undermine India's growth story over the past 15 years.

Congress national spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala called 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 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.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Nov 29, 2018 17:15:27 IST

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