Let debate continue on new GDP numbers: Jaitley

New Delhi, Sep 9 (IANS) Referring to the controversial computation of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) with a new methodology unveiled this year, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, welcoming the “debate” on Wednesday, clarified the government has no role in the matter.

“The manner in which the CSO (Central Statistics Office) functions is autonomous and independent of the government,” he said at The Economist magazine’s annual conference here.

“They work at arms length from the government, while the models they employ are all internationally compatible,” Jaitley said.

Over six months after its release, India’s new series of GDP figures continue to be dogged by controversy.

A growing number of critics have questioned the new estimates of India’s national income. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan has stated publicly that it is difficult to take the new GDP numbers at face value and that he needs to study them further.

A committee headed by National Statistical Commission chief Pronab Sen has been set up to examine the estimation methodology. He has, however been a vocal supporter of the new series.

“In the meanwhile, let both the exercise as well as the debate continue, which is always welcome in democracy,” the finance minister said.

The Indian economy grew seven percent in the first quarter of this fiscal, showing signs of slowing vis-a-vis the 7.5 percent expansion in the quarter before. But the growth was much higher than 6.7 percent registered in the first quarter of the last fiscal.

The new numbers seem quite contradictory when compared with other economic indicators such as the revenue growth of listed firms and bank credit growth, the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), as well as real ground level challenges for companies such as weak demand, high debt and low earnings.

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