‘At least now the notion that the government is deliberately cooking up and telling lies has got to stop'

The government has goofed up in the calculation of export figures with the numbers getting inflated by a whopping $9 billion during the April-November 2011 period. The data goof-up is 4-5 per cent of the export billing.

Admitting the error, Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar on Friday said all the figures of the last eights months had been re-visited and revised.

Exports were inflated by $9 billion during the eight-month period of the current fiscal and the trade deficit was also kept under-valued at $107 billion instead of $117 billion.

“Every number for the last eight months has been revised,'' Mr. Khullar told reporters in a candid conversation here.

Mr. Khullar said not only there was misclassifications but also errors in double counting and all sorts of things due to problems in the computer software, which was recently upgraded. “At least now the notion that the government is deliberately cooking up and telling lies has got to stop. How many people will come and tell you that we have goofed up; there was a mistake. I have said it openly there is nothing to hide; there is no shame in admitting that there is something wrong,'' he remarked.

The Commerce Secretary said that even after taking into account all the miscalculations, exports grew by 33.2 per cent between April-November. “There were doubts on huge growth in exports which were even shown at 82 per cent in July at a time when the manufacturing was going down. Exports are still doing pretty well. Earlier you thought growth would be 40-45 per cent, now it is down to 33 per cent during April-November this fiscal,'' he said.

For the eight month period, total exports have been calculated at $192.7 billion, while imports were placed at $309.5 billion, a growth of 30.2 per cent. The fiscal-end trade gap mgiht be $150-160 billion, he said.

Misclassification

Explaining how things went wrong, Mr. Khullar said there was a misclassification which meant that goods belonging to one category were shown in a different classification. As a result, exports of engineering goods alone got inflated by $15 billion, while those of petroleum and gems and jewellery were under-estimated by over $12 billion. “Because of the ongoing controversy of how reliable the numbers are, we have gone back to the books. We did find mistakes. We have figured out that of the total export basket of $192.7 billion so far, there has been an error of about $9 billion and that now stand corrected,'' Mr. Khullar said.

The numbers given out by the government suggested that growth in exports plummeted to 4.2 per cent year-on-year as the shipments aggregated $22.3 billion in November in the wake of difficult global situation, while imports were up 29.1 per cent to $35.9 billion. “Slowdown in growth has set in because of factors like eurozone crisis,'' Mr. Khullar said.

He said total exports for the current fiscal would be in the range of $280 billion. Though Mr. Khullar gave the export figure for November at $22.3 billion, he declined to give a comparative data of the same month last year, stating what is sacrosanct is not the monthly number; what is sacrosanct is overall picture. In November, 2010, exports stood at $21.4 billion according to the official data released earlier.

Keywords: export figures

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