Amid reports of a sharp decline in consumer spending in rural areas for the first time in the last 40 years, the Narendra Modi government on Friday said that the data of the Consumer Expenditure Survey 2017-18 will not be released this year. The government has cited "data quality issues" as the reason behind its move to hold the finding of the survey.
"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.
Earlier in the day, the Business Standard newspaper had reported that consumer spending - the total value of goods and services that households spend on - dropped for the first time since the 1970s.
According to the report, citing unpublished data from the National Statistical Office, consumer demand in rural areas fell 8.8 per cent between July 2017 and June 2018. This was the biggest 12-month decline in rural spending since 1972-73. The Modi government, however, rejected the charges that the report was not being published due to its "adverse finding".
"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," the government said.
This is not the first time the Modi government has decided to hold its own survey findings. Earlier this year, the employment survey data, which claimed that India's unployement rate was the highest during the Modi government since 1972-73, was also not released in wake of elections. The data, also published by the Business Standard newspaper, revealed that India's unemployment rate peaked to 6.1 per cent during the Modi rule as compared to 2.2 per cent in 2011-12 when the UPA government was in power.