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Jaitley accuses Cong. of opportunism

Minister says party had backed new-series GDP data when it showed strong growth during UPA rule

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday retaliated against the Opposition’s criticism of the back series GDP data released on Wednesday, saying they supported the new series when it showed strong growth during the final years of the UPA government, but are now criticising it when the same method lowered the growth estimate during the earlier years.

“The CSO [Central Statistics Office], in the year 2015, changed the way of calculating Gross Domestic Product [GDP],” Mr. Jaitley wrote in a blog post.

“GDP growth rate estimates were revised from the year 2012-13 onwards with 2011-12 being the base year… The immediate impact of the revision based on the new GDP series was on the last two years of the UPA Government. For the year 2012-13 the growth rate was revised from 4.7% to 5.1% and later again to 5.5%. Similarly, for 2013-14 the GDP growth rate was revised from 5% to 6.9% and later revised to 6.4%.”

“Once the new GDP estimates were given, my predecessor Shri P. Chidambaram publicly welcomed the new series,” Mr. Jaitley added. “He said ‘the new data successfully establishes the fact that UPA succeeded to revive the economy. The revised GDP data will end misconceived charges that UPA mismanaged the economy’.”

Better reflection

Mr. Jaitley said the new series was more broad-based and was a better reflection of the Indian economy, and was globally more comparable. Most experts, he said, including those who have headed the CSO, had opined that this better represented the real state of the Indian economy.

“Consequently, the same basis which improved the growth estimate in the last two years of the UPA government somewhat downgraded it in the earlier years,” the Finance Minister added. “Those who took after the new series in 2015 now consider the new series to be a ‘hatchet job’ and a ‘bad joke’. What humours some when data shows an upward trend depresses them if it moves in the reverse direction.”

Functioned objectively

The Finance Minister highlighted the fact that the CSO under various governments had always functioned objectively and that it maintained an arm’s-length distance from the Finance Ministry. North Block, he said, became aware of the final figures only when they were released and no one in India had ever imputed the motives to the CSO.

‘Nodding acquaintance’

“The Congress party’s reaction is given by those who perhaps have a nodding acquaintance with the subject,” Mr. Jaitley said.

“Data based on facts and on the best global practices is rejected by the party because it takes away the last of its surviving arguments ‘my GDP growth was higher than yours’. The sooner the Congress party realises that its policy paralysis pushed India into the Fragile 5, the better it will be for the party and its leadership.”

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