The controversy over integrity of economic data put out by statistical organisations refuses to die down.
Days after 108 economists and social scientists openly decried “political interference” in data estimation, as many as 131 chartered accountants have come together to join issue, debunking the stance of economists as “politically motivated baseless allegations”.
“The allegation by 108 economists and social scientists that there is political interference in the publication of data is not true. The allegation that economic statistics in India are in shambles is baseless,” M Devaraja Reddy, past President of CA Institute, told a press conference here on Monday.
Under the aegis of ‘CA for Nation’, eminent chartered accountant leaders — five, including two Past Presidents of the CA Institute — felt that the appeal of economists and social scientists seemed “even more devious” as the data in respect of GDP, poverty alleviation, ease of doing business are being duly published even by international agencies including World Bank, IMF and many others.
“The international data and independent agencies have clearly confirmed the data being published by Government agencies,” the chartered accountants said.
Reddy said that from 1960 to 2014, India had been left behind by all its peers — Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Brazil, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Russia, South Africa and Sri Lanka — in economic growth.
“None of these economists or social scientists ever made an appeal in those 54 long years that India is on a slow track and is being left behind. Now when India has become the fastest growing economy in the world, they are worried about the credibility of data. Is it their intention to scare foreign investors by creating doubts on the credibility of data?,” Reddy wondered.
Vinod Jain, former Central Council member of CA Institute, felt that the 108 economists and social scientists have “unnecessarily” raised aspersions on the integrity of data and this would “unnecessarily” affect foreign Governments’ and foreign investors’ impressions on Indian statistical system.
Jain maintained that there is no reason to doubt the GDP growth data as it is duly supported by economic indicators.
He said the chartered accountants work closely with businesses and are better placed to assess the situation on the ground.
Reddy also said that changing of GDP base year is a regular feature. Instead of taking issue with specific areas, a general bunch of allegations has been made, which leaves one guessing about the motivation of the signatories, he said.