New Delhi: Citing data quality issues and a significant increase in divergence in consumption patterns, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, in a shock move, has decided not to release the Consumer Expenditure Survey results of 2017-2018, a survey that is held every five years.
“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 said.
The move to drop the expenditure survey for a full year which maps consumption patterns in rural and urban India is rare, if not unprecedented. The decision comes after media reports which pointed to a huge fall in consumption of pulses, spices and other food items amid allegations that the report was being “suppressed” which prompted tweets from the Opposition leaders attacking the government.
The government has been facing criticism over the authenticity of data and there have been earlier controversies over the GDP data. The Ministry on Friday denied the media reports about the report and said it is only a draft and cannot be considered as the final report.
“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,” it said.
The Ministry said the results of the survey were examined and it was noted that there was a significant increase in the divergence in not only the levels in the consumption pattern but also the direction of the change when compared to the other data sources like the actual production of goods and services.
“Concerns were also raised about the ability/sensitivity of the survey instrument to capture consumption of social services by households, especially on health and education. The matter was thus referred to a Committee of experts which noted the discrepancies and came out with several recommendations including refinement in the survey methodology and improving the data quality aspects on a concurrent basis. The recommendations of the Committee are being examined for implementation in future surveys,” the Ministry said.
The Advisory Committee on National Accounts Statistics has also separately recommended that for rebasing of the GDP series, 2017-18 is not an appropriate year to be used as the new base year. The National Statistical Office (NSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation carried out an all-India survey on household consumption expenditure in the 75th round during the period July 2017 to June 2018 which has now been dropped.
The Consumer Expenditure Survey (CES) is usually conducted once in five years and the last survey on consumer expenditure was conducted in the 68th round (July 2011 to June 2012). The NSS Consumer Expenditure Survey generates estimates of household Monthly Per Capita Consumer Expenditure (MPCE) and the distribution of households and persons over the MPCE classes.
It is designed to collect information regarding expenditure on the consumption of goods and services (food and non-food) consumed by households. The results, after release, are also used for rebasing of the GDP and other macro-economic indicators.