The Draft National Statistical Commission Bill

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    26th Dec, 2019

Context

  • Draft Bill proposes autonomy for National Statistical Commission which gives government power to make final decision.
  • It is put out by Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation and is open for public suggestions until 19 January.

About

About the Bill-

  • The draft bill is aimed at empowering the National Statistical Commission (NSC) to become the nodal body for all core statistics in the country.
  • Core statistics include national income statistics like GDP, jobs data, industry data and budgetary transactions data.

Features of the Bill-

  • As per the draft Bill, the NSC will have a Chairperson, five whole time members along with Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Chief Statistician of India (CSI) as other members and Chief Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance, as the ex-officio member.
  • The Chairman and the members of the Commission shall be appointed by the central government on the recommendation of a search committee.
  • Along with retaining the advisory nature of NSC, the draft Bill states that the decision of the central government, whether a question is of policy or not, shall be final.
  • As per the experts, this proposal goes against the long pending demand to grant more powers to the NSC.
  • The draft Bill also seeks to change the composition of the Commission by replacing NITI Aayog Chief Executive Officer with the Finance Ministry’s Chief Economic Advisor as the ex-officio member along with giving member status to Chief Statistician of India from the current status of secretary to the NSC.
  • As per the draft Bill the central government may, from time to time, issue directions to the Commission as it may think “necessary in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality”.
  • The draft also specifies that the Commission “shall in exercise of its powers or the performance of its functions, be bound by such directions or questions as the Central Government may give in writing to it from time to time”.
  • The draft Bill states that the government shall seek advice from the Commission on any matter relating to official statistics.
  • However, central government or a state government may issue directions as necessary to any government agency under its administrative control along with a report on reasons for not accepting any advice to the commission. 
  • A report on reasons for not accepting any advice of the commission shall be laid before Parliament or a state legislature for a total period of thirty days.
  • The draft Bill states that the NSC shall have power to review the statistical system of any government agency in the light of concepts, definitions, standards, methodologies and established policies, and recommend measures for enhanced performance; to prescribe a code of practice.
  • Also, the Commission shall participate in consultation with the central government and coordinate with national statistical organisations on matters of statistical standards, methodologies and classifications.

Timing of the Draft bill-

  • The draft bill has been released at a time when the government has been facing criticism from several quarters over interference in the release of crucial data unfavourable to it.
  • For example, the government withheld jobs data that showed the unemployment rate at a 45-year high, releasing it only six months later, after the general elections.
  • The Bill comes at a time when several statistical reports such as the unemployment survey were withheld and consumption expenditure survey was decided to be not released by the government.

About NSC:

  • The National Statistical Commission (NSC) of India is an autonomous body which was formed in July 2005.
  • The objective of its commission is to reduce the problems faced by statistical agencies in the country in relation to collection of data.
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