New household consumer expenditure survey to begin in July

Shishir Sinha New Delhi | Updated on December 08, 2019 Published on December 08, 2019

‘Results of previous survey soon, but they will be used only for academic purpose’

Amidst all the controversies on the previous Household Consumer Expenditure Survey, the Statistics Ministry intends to start new survey from July. Also, the Ministry has made it clear that the results of the previous survey will be made public after some time but only for academic purpose.

“The software vendor for the survey has been selected. Now, we will initiate the process to select the vendor for field staff. Effort is on to begin the survey by July,” a senior government official told BusinessLine. There will be two back-to-back surveys in 2020-21 and 2021-22. Since there will be a wider use of technology and the data will be captured electronically, there is a possibility that the results could be released soon after the survey is done.

The NSS Consumer Expenditure Survey generates estimates of household Monthly Per Capita Consumer Expenditure (MPCE) and the distribution of households and persons over the MPCE classes. It is is usually conducted at quinquennial (time period of five years) intervals. It is designed to collect information regarding expenditure on consumption of goods and services (food and non-food) consumed by households. The results, after release, are also used for rebasing of the GDP and other macro-economic indicators.

The result of previous survey on household consumption expenditure, carried out in the 75th round during the period July 2017 to June 2018, leaked before the formal release. It created furore as it was reported that consumer spending was falling at a rapid pace. It was alleged that the adverse finding forced the government to withhold the reports. However, the official reiterated that the so-called findings were from the draft and not the final report. He also informed that after taking everything into consideration, the report will be placed in public domain purely for research.

New committee

There is also a proposal to constitute a new committee. It will suggest instruments for the survey. As of now, an ‘instrument’ means the schedule of 300 plus questions such as consumption expenditure on durable and perishable goods. “The list of questions could be shortened, based on the suggestions of the committee,” the official said, adding that there is a possibility of including consumption through online shopping, too. “The process of data collection will improve data collection and result in faster result,” he said.

The committee will also provide suggestion on the periodicity of survey, i.e. annual or biennial; revision of data elements; and revision in the base year for economic indicators.

Base-year revision

The results of Household Consumer Expenditure Survey also have a role in the revision of base years for key economic indicators such as GDP (Gross Domestic Products) growth rate, the Index of Industrial Production (IIP, which is used to measure industrial growth), the Consumer Price Index (CPI, which measures inflation at the retail level) and the Wholesale Price Index (WPI, which measures inflation at the wholesale level). As of now, the base year for GDP growth, IIP and WPI is 2011-12, while that for CPI is 2012. Normally, base years are revised over a five-year period.

The official mentioned that 2020-21 will not be a new base year for various economic indicators as the survey will cover a limited part of the full fiscal. Earlier, there was a proposal to take 2017-18 as the new base year, but since the year saw the introduction of the Goods & Services Tax (GST) that brought about a lot of changes in the economic activities, it was decided not to use this as the base year.

Published on December 08, 2019
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