Over 200 Economists, Academicians Ask Government To Release Consumer Expenditure Data
Traffic travels past vendors waiting for customers at a garment store in Raghunath Market at night in Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)  

Over 200 Economists, Academicians Ask Government To Release Consumer Expenditure Data

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More than 200 economists and academicians have asked the government to release data of all surveys and reports, including results of the Consumer Expenditure Survey 2017-18, completed by the National Sample Survey Office.

According to some media reports, the 2017-18 Consumer Expenditure Survey shows a sharp decline in average consumption and the survey results are not being released because they support other evidence that the economy is experiencing a downturn, they said in a statement.

“It should be noted that consumption surveys are known to give results that diverge from macroeconomic estimates of the National Accounts,” they said.

Also, National Accounts estimates are based not only on administrative data but on a combination of sources including NSSO and other surveys. Several committees have looked into these discrepancies.

“In the interest of transparency and accountability, all data must be released without delay and irrespective of what the results are,” the statement said.

“The government may wish to defend itself against interpretations of the statistics that it disagrees with,” the statement said.

But this is best-done through technical papers and seminars. To prevent the release of data that are adverse, and diverge from its own understanding, is “neither transparent nor technically sound”, it said.

“We therefore demand that the government should immediately release the report and unit-level data of the 75th Consumer Expenditure Survey. The government should also commit to release all other survey data after the usual processes to check for possible errors have been concluded,” they said.

The economists and academicians who issued the statement, include A Vaidyanathan and Abhijit Sen (former members of erstwhile Planning Commission), Biswajit Dhar (JNU), Dilip Mookherjee (Boston University), Maitreesh Ghatak (LSE), Prabhat Patnaik (Emeritus Professor, JNU), and Thomas Piketty (Paris School of Economics).

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