Can’t com­pare GDP data with con­sumer spend re­port: Panel

Business Standard - - ECONOMY & PUBLIC AFFAIRS - SOMESH JHA

The find­ings of the Na­tional Sta­tis­ti­cal Of­fice ( NSO)’S con­sumer ex­pen­di­ture re­port of 2017-18 can’t be com­pared with the con­sump­tion data de­rived from gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP), said a panel.

The com­mit­tee, set up by the Union gov­ern­ment to re­view the sur­vey, gave ex­pla­na­tions for a de­cline in ex­pen­di­ture wit­nessed across var­i­ous food and non-food items, es­pe­cially i n ru­ral ar­eas, which may find a place in the sur­vey re­port of 2017-18, ex­pected to be re­leased within two months ( see chart).

Busi­ness Stan­dard re­ported last month that con­sumer spend­ing fell for the first time in over four decades — by 3.7 per cent — be­tween 2011-12 and 2017-18, driven by a slack­en­ing ru­ral de­mand, ac­cord­ing to the NSO’S ‘Key In­di­ca­tors of House­hold Con­sump­tion Sur vey ’. How­ever, fol­low­ing the news re­port, the gov­ern­ment de­cided to junk the sur­vey, cit­ing data qual­ity is­sues.

Na­tional Sta­tis­ti­cal Com­mis­sion Chair­man Bi­mal Ku­mar Roy told Busi­ness Stan­dard in an i nter­view pub­lished on Thurs­day that the re­port will be re­leased in two months with “cer­tain caveats” as there are gen­uine rea­sons for a fall in house­hold ex­pen­di­ture.

A fall in house­hold spend­ing is a sig­nal that poverty may have in­creased, ac­cord­ing to ex­perts.

The com­mit­tee, set up on the di­rec­tions of Chief Statis­ti­cian Pravin Srivastava in July to re­view the val­i­da­tion of the sur­vey data, said the ra­tio of the house­hold con­sump­tion ex­pen­di­ture and the pri­vate fi­nal con­sump­tion ex­pen­di­ture (PFCE), a com­po­nent of GDP, was “so much dif­fer­ent for dif­fer­ent item groups in both years 2011-12 and 2017-18 that noth­ing could be con­cluded” by com­par­ing the two.

The NSO’S sur­vey talks about spend­ing, in terms of mon­e­tary value, by house­holds on var­i­ous food and non-food items.

Headed by NSC mem­ber G C Manna, the com­mit­tee noted that the gap be­tween the NSO con­sump­tion ex­pen­di­ture data and the PFCE has widened be­tween 2011-12 and 2017-18 “for al­most all items”.

It ob­ser ved t hat since 1993-94, this gap has con­sis­tently widened, ex­cept for in 2011-12.

The panel said “it is not pos­si­ble to ar­rive at a con­clu­sion from the com­par­i­son” of ad­min­is­tra­tive (GDP) and sur­vey data as there was a “wide gap be­tween pro­duc­tion fig­ures and the to­tal house­hold con­sump­tion ex­pen­di­ture… It is dif­fi­cult to study the con­sump­tion of these com­modi­ties in in­dus­tries, ho­tels, restau­rants, meat shops and ex­port part of these com­modi­ties, etc.”

The find­ings of the com­mit­tee are not in tune with the gov­ern­ment’s claim on data.

The statis­tics min­istry, while an­nounc­ing that it has junked the sur­vey re­port of 2017-18, had said in a press re­lease on Novem­ber 15 that “there was a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the di­ver­gence in not only the lev­els in the con­sump­tion pat­tern but also the di­rec­tion of the change when com­pared to the other ad­min­is­tra­tive data sources like the ac­tual pro­duc­tion of goods and ser­vices”.

The com­mit­tee also ruled out a drop in re­port­ing of con­sump­tion data by the rel­a­tively af­flu­ent sec­tion of peo­ple com­pared to the pre­vi­ous rounds of sur­vey.

It rec­om­mended steps for im­prov­ing the fu­ture sur­veys, in­clud­ing ways to cap­ture the af­flu­ent sec­tions in a bet­ter way and check­ing the data on a con­cur­rent ba­sis while con­duct­ing the sur­vey.

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