Niti begins work to improve data quality

The move comes close on the heels of a controversy over the consumption survey that was junked by the govt.

Agencies
New Delhi: Niti Aayog, India’s key policy think tank, has begun work on a roadmap that will suggest steps to swiftly tackle quality issues confronting official data.

NITI Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar has chaired two rounds of high-level meetings to chalk out a roadmap to prevent leakages and establish credibility of data, which has seen a major dent in the past after government tried to suppress bad news.

The move comes close on the heels of a controversy over the consumption survey that was subsequently junked by the government on data quality concerns.


image (17)


It also comes amid a move by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) to address data quality issues of various surveys, introducing checks for data collection apart from increasing the sample size of surveys to improve accuracy.

Sources aware of the deliberations told ET that the government is serious about addressing the data problem at the earliest.
ADVERTISEMENT

“Two rounds of discussions have been held between top officials of Niti and the statistics ministry,” one of the officials who is privy to the discussions told ET on the condition of anonymity.

A formal notification on the committee and its composition may be issued soon, the official said.

“Official statistics have become such a big issue that the Aayog can’t stay aloof. Its job is to advise the government. They are looking at the statistics including GDP,” another source aware of the development confirmed to ET.

Statistics is no longer the old system, but has a huge technology component as well, the source added. “It is a challenge to obtain, store and maintain data and so is data governance, especially who has access to data,” the source said.
ADVERTISEMENT

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the chairman of the Aayog and officials believe that it has the authority to drive the turnaround of India’s data system.

The credibility of India’s official data has come under strain following last month’s leak of the draft Household Consumer Expenditure report, which showed a decline in spending in rural India in financial year 2018, and was later shelved.
ADVERTISEMENT

Earlier this year, the government withheld the Periodic Labour Force Survey report that showed unemployment sharply rising to a high 6.1% in fiscal year 2018 compared with 2.2% in financial year 2012, following which the Niti Aayog stepped in for a cover-up. Issues were also raised about gross domestic product (GDP) data based on the new series, with economists citing quality issues. Recently, a parliamentary panel suggested regular recruitment and use of technology to improve efficiency at the MoSPI in the wake of the ministry outsourcing primary level field work, as it faces a manpower shortage.

“The ministry should not compromise in any manner on the quality of statistical staff at the field level, so that the credibility of the whole process is not jeopardised,” the parliamentary standing committee on finance said in a report to the Lok Sabha last week.

It emphasised that “appropriate IT systems may also be considered to improve efficiency and reduce manpower needs”.

However, experts like economist Pronab Sen have questioned the competence of the Aayog in such matters. Former members of the National Statistical Commission had accused the government of sidelining the commission and interfering with its working.
Download
The Economic Times Business News App
for the Latest News in Business, Sensex, Stock Market Updates & More.
Download
The Economic Times News App
for Quarterly Results, Latest News in ITR, Business, Share Market, Live Sensex News & More.
READ MORE
ADVERTISEMENT

READ MORE:

LOGIN & CLAIM

50 TIMESPOINTS

More from our Partners

Loading next story
Text Size:AAA
Success
This article has been saved

*

+