Finance

2 more members of NSC quit on feeling sidelined

The two remaining non-government members of the National Statistical Commission (NSC) on Monday aborted the organization citing a lack involvement in key decisions such as the recently-released gross domestic product (GDP) back series, the launch of the new economic census and delay in publishing the employment-unemployment report for 2016-17 despite its approval.

NSC is the apex advisory body on statistical issues.

P C Mohanan, who was working as chairman of NSC, and Delhi School of Economics professor JV Meenakshi sent their resignation letters to the statistics ministry on Monday.

The move has left the commission with chief statistician Pravin Srivastava and NITI Aayog’s Amitabh Kant as members.

“The commission is being sidelined, neglected. We felt that the NSC was not doing its job and we were not being involved in key decisions. The NSC’s job is to restore trust in official statistics and we were not serving that purpose,” stated one of the members who has resigned.

“We resigned on Monday,” Mohanan told ET. The member said there were a series of matters that had been piling up including the government launching the seventh economic census for 2019 without the commission’s approval.

“The GDP back series was released from the Niti Aayog even though that is not the norm. Though we are not involved in the GDP computation, the commission is the apex body,” the person said.

The back series, published in November, adjusted the GDP numbers for the period using new methodology with the base year as FY12 and has scaled back growth in the UPA years from the peak of 10.3% in FY11 to 8.5%. The new series also highlighted that the contribution of the services sector was overestimated earlier and has been revised down. “They were not happy with the way the government is treating the commission,” said a person aware of the development.

Another matter pertains to the government withholding the release of the results of NSSO’s quinquennial survey, with the reference period being 2016-17 even though the commission approved the report. This assumes significance in the wake of the government being criticized for a scarcity of jobs in the country.

“Independence of the NSC should be maintained. It is supposed to be impartial,” said former NSC chairman Radha Binod Barman.

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