Questioning GDP fig., Cong says govt ignoring ground realities

RSTV Bureau
New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma addressing youth Congress activists during a protest against demonetization in New Delhi, Nov 18, 2016. Photo - PTI

New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma addressing youth Congress activists during a protest against demonetization in New Delhi, Nov 18, 2016.
Photo – PTI

Congress party has questioned the GDP figures as released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on Tuesday. Calling it “surprising” and “highly suspect”, the principal opposition claimed that it could dent India’s global credibility and accused Prime Minister Modi and the Union Finance minister of “misleading” the public.

The CSO has put the growth rate for October-December — the quarter in which the government banned 86 per cent of the currency in circulation — at 7%, while it pegged the GDP growth at a higher-than-expected 7.1% for the current fiscal.

“The GDP numbers that have been released are surprising and highly suspect. The GDP growth as projected is questionable and will also undermine the credibility of Indian data globally,” senior Congress leader and former Union minister Anand Sharma said.

He further claimed that the GDP numbers do not factor in the adverse impact of demonetisation, including losses in jobs and production.

Contending the GDP figures, Sharma also claimed that as per its own admission the CSO had stated that it has not been able to collate the data of impact of demonetisation, including the losses in jobs and production especially in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector.

“Therefore, the GDP numbers, ignoring the harsh ground realities and based on increase in revenue from indirect taxes, are artificial and highly misleading,” he said, adding that institutions monitoring the Indian exconomy and analyists have pegged the loss to the economy at Rs 2.50 lakh crore post demonetisation.

Sharma said economic parameters are looking down and job losses are mounting, so there cannot be a high economic growth in this backdrop.

“The government, the prime minister and the finance minister are guilty of misleading the people by ignoring the sufferings inflicted on the poor, especially the farm labour, the factory workers and the daily wage earners due to their ‘reckless’ decision,” he said.

On Tuesday, the CSO had also told that the growth rate was on a higher base after it revised 2015-16 GDP growth rate to 7.9 per cent from the earlier provisional estimate of 7.6 per cent.

India’s growth was higher than China’s 6.8 per cent for the October-December period of 2016.

Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said the CSO numbers have vindicated the government’s position and the criticism of note ban was anecdotal and not supported by data.

CSO’s Chief Statistician TCA Anant said that policies like demonetisation are very difficult to assess without a lot of data coming. “We will keep on evaluating our numbers as and when more data is available,” he added.

(With inputs from the PTI)