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Jaitley Defends New GDP Data for UPA Years as Facts, Congress Calls PM Modi 'Juggler of Numbers'

"The Central Statistics Office (CSO) maintains an arms length distance from finance ministry and has far greater credibility. It should not be discredited, its data is based on facts," Jaitley said.


Updated:November 29, 2018, 8:45 PM IST

New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday defended the government's new GDP data lowering the growth rate during the UPA regime and said it was based on facts and is more reflective of the state of the economy.

"The Central Statistics Office (CSO) maintains an arms length distance from finance ministry and has far greater credibility. It should not be discredited, its data is based on facts," Jaitley said.

A day after Chief Statistician Pravin Srivastava, in an unusual move, announced the revised numbers based on back series data alongside Niti Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar, Jaitley said, "I don't think any service is being rendered by those who discredit the highly credible organisation, CSO."

Jaitley also took a swipe at the Congress and said "this data revised the GDP growth in the last 2 years of UPA government. At that time, revision had made the GDP grow upwards, at that time it was welcomed by the people in the then government."

The opposition has attacked the BJP government at the Centre over this change in GDP numbers. Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and called him a "juggler of numbers".

Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram has accused the Niti Aayog of carrying out a “hatchet job”, demanding that the body be disbanded for slashing the growth rate during UPA regime allegedly at the behest of the Narendra Modi government.

In a series of tweets, Chidambaram said the revision of the GDP figures was “worse than a bad joke”.

“Niti Aayog's revised GDP numbers are a joke. They are a bad joke…. Actually they are worse than a bad joke. The numbers are the result of a hatchet job…. Now that Niti Aayog has done the hatchet job, it is time to wind up the utterly worthless body,” he said.

Chidambaram’s tweets echoed the scathing attack his party launched against the Modi government on Wednesday, saying the move to downgrade the GDP numbers reflects a desperate attempt to undermine India's growth story over the last 15 years.

The entire GDP back series data released today (Wednesday) reflects the desperate attempt of a defeatist Modi government to undermine India's growth story over last 15 years. Modi Government and its puppet Niti Aayog want the people to believe that 2+2=8,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had said.

The government on Wednesday lowered the country's economic growth rate during the previous Congress-led UPA regime, shaving off over one percentage point from the only year when India posted double-digit GDP growth post liberalisation and from each of the three years with 9-plus per cent expansion.

Recalibrating data of past years using 2011-12 as the base year instead of 2004-05, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) estimated that India's GDP grew by 8.5 per cent in the financial year 2010-11 (April 2010 to March 2011) and not at 10.3 per cent as previously estimated.

Similarly, 9.3 per cent growth rate each in 2005-06 and 2006-07 was lowered to 7.9 per cent and 8.1 per cent respectively, while 7.7 per cent rate was now estimated for 2007-08 instead of 9.8 per cent.

The revised growth numbers have been released ahead of the 2019 general elections.

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