Jaitley retorts to Chidambaram's "ratchet-job" comment on new GDP series

Last Updated: Thu, Nov 29, 2018 16:38 hrs
Arun Jaitley (ANI photo)

New Delhi:A day after former Finance Minister P Chidambaram termed the revised Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data series published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) as a "bad joke," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley asserted that the new data provides greater clarity about the real state of Indian economy and can easily be used for global comparison.

The government 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 data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the maximum growth rate the economy achieved during the UPA years was 8.5 per cent in 2010-11, significantly lower than the 10.3 per cent 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. Read more on the latest GDP back-series data here.

Former finance minister P. Chidambaram posted a series of tweets on Wednesday, expressing criticism of the new GDP series which implies a deaccelerating economy during 2015.

On Thursday, FM Arun Jaitley offered clarifications. Talking to media persons, he said, when the data was released in 2015, it was welcomed by former FM P.Chidambaram, but is now being criticised owing to a downward revision of GDP data.

"Data is realistic, not fictional. When you compare two versions of data, you have to have the same yardstick," Jaitley said.

"In February 2015, the CSO worked on a new formula with 2011-12 as the base year. After this, the new GDP series was announced. Since then, GDP data has been based on the new series. This new series is globally more comparable and gives a clear picture of the state of the economy," he explained.

Jaitley continued, "When data was released in 2015, it revised GDP growth of the last two years of the UPA government. At that time, revision made GDP grow upwards. This new data was welcomed by the UPA, saying the new GDP series established that they did not mismanage the economy. This very statement was made by then Finance Minister Chidambaram on February 3 that year. What was welcomed in 2015 is being criticised in 2018 as it has been revised downwards."

The CSO on Wednesday had released the back series of GDP/GVA for period 2004-05 to 2011-12 with base 2011-12 prices. NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar had said that the think tank had organised two Round Tables in which domain experts participated to ensure the quality of coverage and methodology in tabulating data.

Jaitley also backed the credibility of the CSO's operations and clarified that they had nothing to do with the Finance Ministry.

"CSO is highly credible and maintains an arm's length distance from the Finance Ministry. In fact, we also come to know of the data only when it is released. I don't think any service is being rendered by people who choose to discredit a highly credible organisation like the CSO because it is data is based on facts and the revised formulations which is a continuous exercise," he concluded.

Meanwhile, here are the tweets made by the former Finance Minister.