Do not trust govt data anymore: Yashwant Sinha

NEW DELHI: Former Union minister Yashwant Sinha said on Monday that any attempt by the Modi government to present a full budget will be in “direct violation of the constitutional traditions of our country.”

Speaking at the Indian Women’s Press Corps, Sinha said the government does not have the right to announce any new services in the interim budget, to present an Economic Survey, or to introduce a Finance Bill. He said that while the government may argue that the Constitution does not bar it from presenting a full budget, convention in this case is important. Article 116 — which provides for presenting an interim budget — exists in the Constitution for this purpose only, Sinha said. Commenting on the state of the economy, he also said he “does not trust the figures given out by the government any more”.

Sinha cited concerns with the back series of GDP data. “The government constituted a committee headed by Sudipto Mundle, but when the report presented some UPA years in better light, it was quickly withdrawn. Then Niti Ayog came out with a new report to show that this government’s growth numbers were better than both NDA I and UPA,” Sinha said. Alleging that statistics were “tweaked” every time to suit the government, Sinha also said this was done to show demonetisation had a positive impact on agriculture, and then again to show a surge in employment numbers. “It is for the first time in the history of independent India that a government is tampering with statistical data,” Sinha said.

In a sharp critique of Union minister Arun Jaitley for his comments to CBI over their FIR against former ICICI bank chief Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar and Videocon chief Venugopal Dhoot, Sinha said it was “entirely improper” of Jaitley to blog and tell the CBI it was indulging in “investigative adventurism”. “If he had any issues with the CBI he should have raised the issue in private or with the PM. This sets a bad precedent, especially because the finance ministry was under his charge,” Sinha said.



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