Finance Minister Arun Jaitley came down strongly on the 108 economists who had alleged political interference in economic data.

In his latest blog, Jaitley also questioned the economists on their doubts over jobs not being created despite the Indian economy being seen as fastest growing economy in the world.

Jaitley said the recent statement by the purported economists needs to be analysed. “Most of them have, over the last few years, repeatedly signed the memorandums of manufactured political issues against the present government. ‘Compulsive contrarians’ can hardly be objective,” he wrote in his blog titled ‘Agenda 2019’, the ninth in the series.

In this blog, Jaitley has presented a report card on economy comparing NDA government with its predecessors.

He went on to say, first there was a draft report ignoring the government’s claim on job creation and said that unemployment rate has reached four decades high. Though, the government rejected the report, criticism continued. Then a group of economists have raised doubts about veracity and integrity of economic data alleging political interference in publication of economic data.

Fake campaign

Terming it as fake campaign against the government, Jaitley said that the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) always maintains an arm’s length distance from the government and functions professionally and independently. The data is maintained as per the best global practices. “The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have always commented favourably while accepting our data,” he wrote.

On the job situation he quoted from the recent survey of MSME (Micro-Small-Medium Enterprises) and said that it indicates “a growth of 13.9 per cent in net jobs created over the last 4 years at 3.3 per cent per annum (compounded growth rate).” The survey was published by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in March, and covers 105,345 firms of varying sizes, across sectors and geographies.

Job additions

The survey also states that given that the total workforce size according to the Labour Bureau is estimated at 450 million (projected for 2017-18), the overall job additions work out to 13.5 – 14.9 million per annum. This, according to Jaitley, fits in with the trends given by the EPFO (Employees Provident Fund Organisation) data by SK Ghosh and Pulak Ghosh.

All these data indicate the general trend of jobs increasing in India, which match the 7.3 per cent average growth rate of GDP. Normally a high growth rate leads to a higher job creation. This can be negated only if the productivity levels suddenly grow up. In India, it is unlikely.

“There is no social dissatisfaction in terms of popular agitations or protests. Thus, the fake campaign of job losses in India deserves to be rejected,” he said.

He said while considering the rate of growth of GDP, investment in infrastructure and accompanying economic and labour reforms for the last five years along with the underlying structure of the Indian Economy, it would be amply clear that there have been several sources of employment growth and creation of gainful employment opportunities.

MoSPI has been bringing out employment related statistics using payroll reporting. EPFO data shows that 72.32 lakh new subscribers were added to EPFO between September, 2017 and December, 2018. This would not be possible without an increase in jobs in the formal sector. “This is corroborated by a study by Mohandas Pai, which calculated that 1.08 crore jobs have been created in just three professions – CAs, lawyers and doctors in 2017,” he said.