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Benchmark inflation data turns monthly now

If all goes according to plan, in less than a month, the country will get a new, updated, Wholesale Price Index.

business Updated: Oct 19, 2009 21:30 IST
HT Correspondent

If all goes according to plan, in less than a month, the country will get a new, updated, Wholesale Price Index.

The government on Monday cleared a proposal for release of inflation data on a monthly basis and not every week for most items tracked by the index, known as WPI.

Price data on primary and fuel items, however, would continue to be released on weekly basis.

There would thus be two indices, one weekly ( for primary and essential goods), and the other monthly ( a consolidated index that would cover all industrial goods).

“The new series of WPI inflation with 2004-05 as base year would be launched soon,” Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told reporters after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).

The government intends to release the new series after November 14.

The new series has been finalised on the recommendations of a working group headed by Planning Commission member Abhijit Sen.

The new series will have 2004-05 as the base year, as against 1993-94 in the present mode and will eventually reflect a consumption basket that is relevant in today’s scenario, thereby making inflation data more reliable.

The Sen committee that has expanded the number of items to 1,200 from 435, has submitted a report advocating a switch to a weekly sensitive, or essential, commodities index and a monthly all-commodity index, simply because it is virtually
impossible to ensure weekly data flows from manufacturing industry.

Officials, however, said the shift to a new series will begin with the existing 435 items and will eventually include 1,200 items in a phased manner.

National Sample Survey Organisation, a division within the ministry of statistics, has been roped in to collect price data for the new series and a dry run is on the anvil in the next couple of months.

At present, provisional WPI data is announced with a two-week lag and final data with a two-month lag.

“Test runs of the new series is underway collating price data given by more than 3,500 manufacturing units,” said a senior official.

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