Can There Be A Constitutional Body To Calculate Growth Rates?

Sanjaya

New Delhi: There have been allegations flying across the country against governments trying to show inflated growth rates. The figures put out by NDA government regarding the rate of growth in GDP ( Gross Domestic Product) was disputed by Opposition parties and some economists of international repute.

Deputy Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma was prompt in declaring that the NDA government is indulging in fudging of numbers in order to show fake growth in GDP to justify demonetisation. The strong response by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was not convincing.

Andhra Pradesh government has come up with a figure which is more than national growth rate of 7 percent. It is more than 10 percent. The State has been reeling under drought and the revenues are yet to pick up. Only excise revenue has been growing. The service sector is yet to improve. Industrialisation is only on the paper so far. By no stretch of imagination, the growth rate can be in double digits. But Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu has been emphatic in his claim of higher rate of growth. It was disputed by Opposition leader YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. The people have their doubts.

Always trying to be at least one step ahead of Naidu, Telangana State Chief Minister Kalvakuntla Chandrashekhara Rao (KCR) has declared a higher rate of growth putting the figure at a fancy 19.6 plus percent( the actual figure given by FM is 10.1% of GDP growth). Except Hyderabad, all other districts in TS are backward in terms of revenues. It is beyond anybody’s imagination how the Telugu speaking States can boast of a growth rate that was not claimed even by China in the best of times.

There is a general feeling in the intellectual circles that the growth rates should be decided by a constitutional body after studying all aspects of economic activity in great detail. The central government or the State governments should be barred from making tall claims regarding growth rates. The constitutional body should comprise finance ministers and leaders of Opposition besides representatives of trade and industry bodies. If necessary, the constitution should be amended to facilitate such a constitutional body which will be answerable to the Parliament. Otherwise, the country would become a laughing stock in international fora when institutions like World Bank and IMF berate the claims made by the Government of India. We may brazen it out but there is a risk of losing respect in the process.

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