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Members never discussed concerns, says govt over National Statistical Commission resignations

The government on Wednesday sought to control the fallout of the resignation of the chairman and an external member of the National Statistical Commission (NSC) by clarifying that the reasons given by them for their exit were never discussed in meetings.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2019 23:00 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
National Statistical Commission,NSC,Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation
Chairman PC Mohanan and external member J Meenakshi of the National Statistical Commission resigned, leaving it without any external member.

The government on Wednesday sought to control the fallout of the resignation of the chairman and an external member of the National Statistical Commission (NSC) by clarifying that the reasons given by them for their exit were never discussed in meetings. The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has also reached out to the two, with its secretary inviting them for a meet aimed at reconciliation.

In a statement, the ministry also pointed out that the concerns of the members — over the delay in releasing NSSO’s labour survey 2017-18 and the creation of the back series of GDP — were never raised in any recent meeting and that the back series was, in fact, approved by the NSC.

Chairman PC Mohanan and external member J Meenakshi of the NSC resigned, leaving the NSC without any external member. NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant and Chief Statistician of India Pravin Srivastava remain ex-officio member and the secretary to the NSC, respectively.

Neither Mohanan nor Meenakshi could be reached for comment. In an interview with The Print, Mohanan said the commission was made “ineffective” by the government’s actions.

“The members (have) expressed certain concerns on the functioning of the Commission including release of the labour force survey results and the Back Series of GDP. These concerns were not expressed by the members in any of the meetings of the Commission in the last few months,” the ministry statement said. The government indicated that it would take more time to release the NSSO report. “The Periodic Labour Force Survey has been designed to yield annual estimates of the labour force on employment and unemployment along with quarterly estimates for the urban areas. NSSO is processing the quarterly data for the period July 2017 to December 2018 and the report will be released thereafter.”

The NSSO jobs report is believed to show the impact of demonetisation on employment. The ministry’s statement sought to take a more expansive view of employment. “It is important to improve measures of employment through administrative statistics and complemented by periodic surveys. In this direction, the Ministry has started bringing out estimates of new subscribers/members enrolling in large social security schemes like the Employees’Provident Fund (EPF), Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) Scheme and the National Pension Scheme (NPS). The new members enrolling in these schemes are a good measure about the numbers in the workforce moving towards formalization,” it added.

The NSC, established on July 12, 2006 is engaged in “policies, priorities and standards in statistical matters”. It has four members besides a Chairperson, each having specialization and experience in specified statistical fields.

As the political controversy over the resignations raged on Wednesday, the ministry stated that it “not only places a high regard for the Commission but also values its advice and on which appropriate action is taken.” The ministry also tried to turn the tables on the disgruntled members over the GDP back series issue and stated that “the National Statistical Commission had itself urged the Ministry to finalise and release it.”

“The official estimates of the Back Series of GDP were accordingly computed using the methodology adopted in the 2011-12 Base Year series and this was approved by the experts...the methodology adopted by the Ministry for the Back Series is available in the public domain,” it added. Like the 2011-12 series itself, the back series has come under criticism.

First Published: Jan 30, 2019 23:00 IST