July 12, 2024

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Panagariya seeks a home for Finance Commissions’ data

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Sixteenth Finance Commission chairperson Arvind Panagariya on Sunday mooted a mechanism that brings together data generated by various Finance Commissions in one place. Noting that a lot of statistics are compiled each time by the Constitutional body appointed every five years, which could come in handy for future Commissions’ work.

“Apparently, Finance Commissions are appointed every five years and remain in office for a couple of years. And each Finance Commission collects its own data, but there is no permanent home for this data. So each Commission goes out, then the next one comes in and starts gathering data all over again,” said Mr. Panagariya.

Speaking at an event hosted by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) to mark Statistics Day, he reckoned that at the end of a Finance Commission’s tenure, all its members and staff “really leave with lots of Excel files that most likely remain on their computers”.

“So I think… it’s not necessarily that the MoSPI has to do it, but somebody ought to take some sort of a lead in creating a home for these data on a permanent basis. So that the work of the Commission actually will certainly get much smoothened out, for at least in the future,” Mr. Panagariya said. This could be done through a common portal to host these data sets, he pointed out.

The first vice chairman of the Niti Aayog, who is now in charge of the body tasked with recommending the revenue-sharing formula between the Centre and States for the five-year period starting April 1, 2026, also stressed the importance of data, and their analysis for conceiving and implementing good economic policies.

“The challenge is to produce authentic, robust and accurate statistics to cope with the huge demand for information that is now almost universally accessible. The need of the hour is to ensure the availability of accurate data so these can be appropriately fed into the decision-making processes,” aided by technology,” Mr. Panagariya noted.

“Economists are really nothing without Statistics, so they are always in awe of these institutions… Statistics are fundamental to all activities ranging from formulating policies to analysing the outcomes of the programs and schemes, economic planning, and social development,” he said.

With India becoming a member of the United Nations Statistical Commission this year, after almost two decades, the Finance Commission chief said this places an enormous responsibility on the country to contribute to the agenda of setting standards in the global statistical systems, while making the Indian statistical system more robust.

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