BJP MPs block Murli Manohar Joshi's pitch for review of GDP mechanism

Joshi is learnt to have recommended that the govt evolve a mechanism by bringing new measures for GDP estimation by including statistical data of larger social factors and realtime data.
NEW DELHI: Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Estimates, Murli Manohar Joshi, has in a draft report recommended that the government review the mechanism evolved for GDP estimation. It prompted BJP members in the committee to vociferously oppose the recommendations and block the report’s adoption at Thursday’s meeting.

They argued the report could dent the credibility of Indian economy’s growth and GDP projection in the eyes of the IMF, World Bank and international rating agencies, sources said.
The draft report also questioned accuracy of the data, survey and parameters adopted to measure employment and unemployment levels, and complained that up-to-date, realistic position on employment/unemployment at a particular time “on various important parameters is not available”.

In the draft report, Measuring Growth, Employment & Income, chairman Joshi is also learnt to have recommended that the government evolve a mechanism by bringing new measures for GDP estimation by including statistical data of larger social factors and realtime data. This triggered furt her opposition from Nishikant Dubey-led BJP MPs, who command a majority in the committee.

As they threatened a dissent note, the chairman and some other members such as Mohd Salim are learnt to have pointed out to them the rules of the estimates committee don’t permit such a course. With BJP MP persisting with their opposition, sources said, the chairman asked the critics to give written suggestion for alteration/modification “within a week”.

The draft report has said that in the present GDP estimation, as stated by the Department of Economic Affairs, “only” economic variable are used to analyse the economy. Also, it felt the base data was not real-time, sources said. Instead, the draft report — based on larger evidences provided by various government departments and witnesses before the committee — felt as GDP is an indicator of economic and social development of the country, it had to include other parameters, alternate methods and metrology for measuring it to “capture realtime happenings” — such as number of schools, hospitals and doctors and other professional produced — given India’s large population, diverse geography, creativity of society, art, spiritualism, climate condition, working conditions of workers, including leisure time, etc to make GDP estimation reflect “reality and public perception”. BJP MPs countered it by saying the Niti Ayog and Ministry of Statistics had provided data on all these fronts for GST estimation.

The draft report, sources said, concluded that the mechanism evolved for GDP estimation needs review and that many more factors need to be incorporated in statistical measurement of socio-economic factors so that GDP reflects reality and perception. BJP MPs now plan to amend the draft report through alternate “wordings and formulations.” Incidentally, BJP MPs had earlier blocked adoption of Standing Committee on Finance’s draft report on demonetisation.
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