GDP based on statistical robustness, not personal expectations: Official

New Delhi, March 2 (IANS) With controversy over the third quarter GDP figures reflecting only a marginal impact on growth, India’s Chief Statistician T.C.A. Anant on Thursday said the numbers were based on statistical robustness and not personal expectations.

“You create expectations based on conversations. I have to depend on numbers from sources and agencies. Personal expectations, observations, may not have that much statistical robustness,” Anant told BTVi in an interview.

He said the tone of disbelief was not only specific to the GDP numbers, but was also there for the third quarter corporate results.

The latest official data showed Indian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth at 7 per cent for the third quarter, which is only a marginal impact of the November 8 demonetisation measure.

The estimates of GDP growth for the full fiscal 2016-17, at 7.1 per cent, marked a sharper fall from the 7.9 per cent recorded for the fiscal 2015-16.

Both the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) lowered India’s growth estimates for the fiscal by up to 1 per cent, citing the impact of demonetisation.

India’s chief statistician said GDP numbers should not be seen in isolation with respect to any particular data or sector as it is an aggregate.

“GDP is a composite aggregated by multiple indicators. It is likely some indicators will be positive and some negative. What matters is how it aggregates together,” he said.

Some segments may do poorly, but the average may do well as GDP is an aggregate for the large segments taken together, he added.

“People are pointing to single indicators like scooter sales fell down, so how consumption picked up. 30 per cent of all consumption expenditure comes from agriculture, 40-42 per cent goes on education and health, remainder is divided between housing, manufacturing (durable, non-durable),etc.,” the chief statistician noted.

Agriculture has done well, education and health expenditure has gone up, Anant said.

He said that people should fit their thinking to the numbers, rather than asking the numbers to fit their thinking as there is a well laid out system to estimate GDP.

Listing out the various factors that the GDP numbers are based on, he said that estimate of agriculture production, index of industrial production (IIP), advance filings by companies, tax collections and detailed dis-aggregate data relating to cement production, mining output, steel production etc. have formed the basis of the numbers revealed.

“People want to focus on one figure to the exclusion of everything else. IIP and corporate filings are combined to estimate non-corporate growth. IIP should not be seen in exclusion, but along with advance estimates of manufacturing companies,” he said.

Anant said that when later the actual numbers come, it can go either way because we get more data on Rabi crop, government revenue and expenditure and corporate accounts.