Having failed to check errors in industrial production data, the government has now decided to stop giving a detailed break-up, something that has been the norm for years. As a result, the official website of the economic advisor in the industry ministry has not only struck off the link "IIP for DIPP items" but even has a three paragraph note on the discontinuation.
The department of industrial policy and promotion in the commerce and industry ministry was responsible for collection and dissemination of 268 items, which are part of the index of industrial production (IIP).
It also included several core sector industries, which now account for close to 40% of the IIP. The new-found logic in the commerce and industry ministry is that the data released by the Central Statistical Organization (CSO) every month "already contains the indices and growth rates at an aggregated level".
"Separately the office of the economic advisor also releases the index of the core sector every month...it has been decided to discontinue the practice of uploading the index of 268 DIPP items and core industries on the website of the office of the economic advisor, DIPP, with immediate effect," the note on the website said.
When contacted, Manjula Krishnan, principal advisor in the industry department, said, "IIP is enough for any analysis. We noticed that we ended up repeating data. You cannot get a trend from only 268 items when IIP has many more items...
this was only resulting in partial analysis." Often, items like insulated rubber cable and polythene bags are part of the 268 items that have caused volatility in the IIP. Just last month, on Statistics Day, the economic advisor in the industry ministry goofed up again on core sector data, which many believe is behind the decision to stop the release of data.
In the past, data on these items was actually released a few days before the release of IIP but the chief statistician got the industry department to change the release period. Several in the government too have been seeking data secrecy but analysts are critical of the latest development.
"The need of the hour is more data, not less data. Item-wise production data from DIPP has been extremely helpful in separating the underlying industrial production trend from volatile components," said Anurag Jha, economist at ICICI Securities Primary Dealership.
It was for the 268 items released by the industry ministry that analysts could spot the mistake in sugar data, which had resulted in erroneous IIP data being released by the government earlier this year.