Government won’t release Consumer Spending Report over “data quality issues”

Consumer Expenditure

The government has decided to junk the Consumer Expenditure Survey 2017-18 findings, after a leaked draft of it was published by Business Standard on Friday which showed that the consumer spending in rural areas fell for the first time in more than four decades.

The government cited “data quality issues” for not releasing the survey report.

“In view of the data quality issues, the Ministry has decided not to release the Consumer Expenditure Survey results of 2017-2018. The Ministry is separately examining the feasibility of conducting the next Consumer Expenditure Survey in 2020-2021 and 2021-22 after incorporating all data quality refinements in the survey process,” the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation said in a statement.

Business Standard reported on Friday that consumer spending fell for the first time in more than four decades in 2017-18, majorly due to decelerated rural demand.

The average amount of money spent by a person in a month fell by 3.7 per cent from Rs 1,501 in 2011-12 to Rs 1,446 in 2017-18.

Also read: Consumption expenditure falls for first time in over four decades: NSO

Last time when a fall in consumption was seen was in 1972-73 due to a global oil crisis and before that, in the mid-1960s due to a domestic food crisis.

The survey was conducted by the NSO between July 2017 and June 2018 and the report was supposed to be released in June 2019 but, as reported by Business Standard, it was withheld by NSO due to its “adverse” findings.

Rejecting the allegation of the report being withheld by NSO due to it “adverse findings”, the Ministry said, “The Ministry has seen the media reports regarding consumer expenditure survey by the NSS stating that consumer spending is falling and the report has been withheld due to its ‘adverse’ findings. We would like to emphatically state that there is a rigorous procedure for vetting of data and reports which are produced through surveys. All such submissions which come to the ministry are draft in nature and cannot be deemed to be the final report”.

A similar pattern was observed in January this year, when Business Standard reported that the country’s unemployment rate was at a 45-year-high of 6.1 per cent in 2017-18, citing  the National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO’s) periodic labour force survey.

However, the report was not released and the Centre said that it was not a report but a draft that had not been approved.

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