Arun Jaitley defends GDP back-series data that slashed UPA-era growth rates

Published: 29 November, 2018 16:54 IST | IANS | New Delhi

He said the data released on Wednesday was based on facts and best global practices, and was being rejected by the Congress as it took away "the last of its surviving arguments" that the GDP growth during the UPA era was higher compared to the presen

Arun Jaitley
Arun Jaitley

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday rejected the Congress criticism of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) back series data as "malicious and fraudulent jugglery", saying it was realistic and not fictional.

He said the data released on Wednesday was based on facts and best global practices, and was being rejected by the Congress as it took away "the last of its surviving arguments" that the GDP growth during the UPA era was higher compared to the present regime.

"Data is realistic. It is not fictional. And this formula is globally more comparable. So what was welcomed by the UPA in 2015 is now being criticised in the year 2018, because it revises it (growth) downwards," he told reporters.

"The Congress Party's reaction is given by those who perhaps have a nodding acquaintance with the subject," he later wrote in Facebook.

He said the Central Statistics Office (CSO) was a highly credible organisation and it completely maintained an "arms length distance" from the Finance Ministry. "In fact, we also come to know about the data only when it is finally released," he said.

"No one in India has ever imputed motives to the CSO. The sooner the Congress party realises that its policy paralysis pushed India into the Fragile-Five, the better it will be for the party and its leadership," he said.

The Congress on Wednesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of resorting to "malicious and fraudulent jugglery" of GDP figures to hide the "enormous body blow" caused by them to India's economy.

Congress Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said that "failed Modinomics" plus a "pakoda economic vision" has sunk India's economy in complete turmoil.

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said the NITI Ayog's revised GDP numbers were "a joke, bad joke and worse than a bad joke".

"The numbers are the result of a hatchet job. Now that the NITI Ayog has done the hatchet job it is time to wind up the utterly worthless body." Chidambaram said.

Jaitley said the immediate impact of the revision based on the new GDP series was on the last two years of the UPA government, and was welcomed by the Congress.

"For the year 2012-13, the growth rate was revised from 4.7 per cent to 5.1 per cent and later again to 5.5 per cent. Similarly, for 2013-14 the GDP growth rate was revised from 5 per cent to 6.9 per cent and later revised to 6.4 per cent," He wrote in his Facebook post.

He said his predecessor Chidambaram publically welcomed the new series, saying it would end misconceived charges that the UPA mismanaged the economy, and that it, in fact, succeeded to revive the economy.

"Now, in continuation of the same exercise applying the same yardstick, the new series has been made applicable from FY 2004 or '05. So, the growth on the basis of the new series may be revised either upward or downward, depending on the applicability of the data," he said.

The Finance Minister said that the formula was the same. So, while comparing it, the "yardstick" has to be the same.

"Consequently, the same basis which improved the growth estimate in the last two years of the UPA government somewhat downgraded it in the earlier years. Those who took after the new series in 2015 now consider the new series to be a 'hatched job' and a 'bad joke'. What humours some when data shows an upward trend depresses them if it moves in the reverse direction," Jaitley said.

In a joint press conference with the NITI Aayog, 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.

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