National Statistical Commission Bill: Analysis; Recent Controversy; NSC and its composition; Key Features of the Bill; Importance
Analysis: Data and Importance of Statistics
Data is the new oil and governments across the world understand this. Availability of good and relevant data ensures the effectiveness and efficiency of various public services. With the steady growth of large volumes of data, the need and importance of statistics has been growing parallelly at local, national and international levels. Statistics thus plays an important role in planning, monitoring and evaluation of socio-economic policies and improve governance.
Recent controversies about data anomalies
The national statistical data and the organisation have come under criticism in the past few years. Two independent members of the National Statistical Commission have resigned in protest due to the alleged suppression of economic data by the central government. Many scholars of repute have released a statement decrying falling standards of independence of the institutes. These controversies seriously affect the credibility of the data released by the national organisation in the country as well as the world.
National Statistical Commission (NSC)
- Rangarajan Commission reviewed the Indian Statistical System in 2001. On the basis of his recommendations, the National Statistical Commission was constituted through a resolution on 1st June 2005 with effect from 12th July 2006.
- NSC was established to act as a nodal and empowered body for all core statistical activities of the country. It is supposed to evolve national policies relating to the statistical system, monitor and enforce statistical standards, and ensure coordination among the different agencies involved in its mandate.
- NSC also oversees functioning of National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) and the conduct of National Sample Surveys (NSS).
Composition of Commission:
The present National Statistical Commission includes-
- 1 part-time Chairperson,
- 4 part-time Members,
- an ex officio Member
- and a Secretary.
The rank of Secretary is held by the Chief Statistician of India who is also the Head of National Statistical Office. The CEO of NITI Aayog is the ex-officio member of the NSC.
Draft National Statistical Commission Bill, 2019
The draft bill seeks to constitute the National Statistical Commission as the nodal regulatory body for all core statistical activities of the country. The core statistics include national and state-level statistics like GDP, jobs data, industry data budgetary transactions data.
Key features of the bill are:
- Constitution of National Statistical Commission: The NSC will consist of 9 members. These include:
- The Chairperson
- Five full-time member
- The Deputy Governor of RBI
- The Chief Statistician of India,
- The Chief Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance.
- The Chairperson and five full-time members of the NSC will be appointed by the union government.
- Functions of the National Statistical Commission:
- The NSC will advise the central and state governments, courts and tribunals on matters relating to government statistics.
- These include evolving national policies, legislative measures, and laying down standards for statistical concepts and methodologies.
- It will maintain government statistics data for public distribution.
- National Statistical Audit and Assessment Organisation:
- The draft Bill establishes the National Statistical Audit and Assessment Organisation within the National Statistical Commission (NSC).
- This division will conduct a periodic statistical audit of any statistical survey being conducted by the government agency.
- It will be headed by Chief Statistical Auditor who will be appointed by the central govt.
- National Statistical Fund
- The draft Bill proposes to constitute the National Statistical Fund (NSF)
- NSF shall include resources received by the NSC through govt grants, fees and charges, and any other sources decided by the central govt.
- The fund can be used to pay allowances, salaries, and other remunerations to the members, among others.
- Inquiries, offences and penalties:
- The NSC has the power to caution, warn or censure a govt agency if:
- it doesn’t comply with the standards of the statistical ethics,
- any person engaged in govt statistics commits professional misconduct, makes any false or misleading statement or material omission in any information furnished to the NSC.
The draft bill seeks to bring in many changes in the erstwhile National Statistical Commission. The bill has retained advisory nature of the NSC, however, states that the decision of union government shall be final in all matters. The composition of the commission is also sought to be changed with permanent members and replacing CEO of NITI Aayog with Finance Ministry's Chief Economic Advisor as the ex-officio member.
The draft bill allows the central govt to issue directions to the commission as it may deem necessary in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of the nation, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign nations, decency, public order or morality.
The draft bill allows the Commission to advise the government on matters relating to official statistics. If any advice of the commission is not accepted then a report on reasons for not accepting shall be laid before Parliament or a state legislature for a total period of thirty days.
All the nodal officers in central/state ministries and departments are to be professionally responsible to the Chief Statistician of India.
Importance of the New Bill
- The bill seeks to establish an apex statutory statistical body with legal backing. It would make the data available for several departments and break their isolated approach in managing data.
- India has a worldwide respected system of data collection and analysis. The statistical organisation have immense credibility both nationally and internationally.
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