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More power for better data

business Updated: Dec 17, 2008 22:38 IST

The government is out to clean up its data-gathering act to make better the statistics that drive vital decisions in the economy.

A proposed new legislation would empower the government to have access to corporate data.

The Collection of Statistics Bill, 2007, proposed to replace the Collection of Statistics Act, 1953, once legislated, would give the government bodies, including municipal agencies and panchayats, powers to seek sensitive corporate data

The move is aimed at strengthening data collection methodologies so that policy-makers have access to better data. At present, data collected for the Index of Industrial Production and the Wholesale Price Index are on a voluntary basis.

The Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha, or the Upper House of Parliament, last year and then sent to a parliamentary standing committee, a group of parliamentarians who discuss policies.

The standing committee has asked the ministry to prescribe general principles governing outsourcing the collection of data.

The industry fears that the power to collect information should be amplified through guidelines to include the communication of purpose behind collecting information.

A senior executive of a leading Delhi-based corporation, who did not wish to be identified, said the Bill could have serious commercial consequences. “On several occasions, companies would have to prevent information due to non-disclosure agreements (NDA) that they have signed or because of regulatory requirements of the stock exchanges. It is of paramount importance to protect the confidentiality of such information,” he said.

The government, however, stated that Bill has been introduced to meet the needs of a market driven economy, and elaborate provisions have been made to ensure that the information collected under the Bill shall not be used for any purpose other than for statistical purposes.

“The scope has been enhanced to collect all kings of statistics not only from industrial and commercial concerns, but also from individuals and households,” an official, who did not wish to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to reporters, said.

“Elaborate provisions have been made to ensure that the information collected under the legislation shall not been used for any purpose other than statistical purposes,” said the official.