India’s Chief Statistician Pravin Srivastava acknowledged that there has been a delay in releasing the NSSO’s controversial and new Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), and said that it will take “at least a month” before the survey is made public. He also said that the National Statistical Commission (NSC) had been briefed about the GDP back series data and thus felt that the controversy had been “blown out of proportion in the press”.
Responding to questions from HuffPost India in context of the criticisms by the members of the NSC who resigned on Monday about the delay in releasing the PLFS, Srivastava said, “It is just a question of...we need to have a full analysis done before we can release it. That’s the basic thing. It’s not yet done. There is a bit of a delay that’s it.” When asked how long will it take for the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), which is conducting the PLFS through the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), to release the survey, he replied saying, “We are working on it so let’s see. It will take at least a month because December data has just got, you know, entered and we are getting it analysed, so let’s see. At least a month or so.”
Acting Chairman P C Mohanan, who resigned with member of the NSC and Prof. J V Meenakshi on Monday, had told HuffPost India on Tuesday evening that they resigned from the commission “since we were of the feeling that it was not very effective. We thought there is no point in continuing.” He had also said that the delay in releasing the PLFS “was one of the reasons”for their resignation. Another official source had said, “The report was approved in December first week but it is still not released. Generally, the commission approves such reports and they are uploaded on the website by the NSSO as a way of releasing them.That has not happened in this case.”
On Wednesday evening, when he was asked about the speculation that the PLFS was “buried” by the government since it had embarrassing data about the jobs scenario, Srivastava, who is also secretary of the MoSPI, said, “That’s just misplacing and misusing words.” A “clarification” issued by MoSPI earlier in the day stated that the “NSSO is processing the quarterly data for the period July 2017 to December 2018 and the report will be released thereafter. The Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation not only places a high regard for the Commission but also values its advice and on which appropriate action is taken.”
On the criticism about whether the NSC was sidelined and kept out of all statistical issues including the release of the new GDP back series data, Srivastava said, “That is not correct. It was supposed to be done by the (CSO) advisory committee and that’s also mentioned in our press release. That’s the competent authority. And the NSC has been briefed so there is no issue on that. I think it has been blown out of proportion in the press.”