The government has shelved a plan to release the Consumer Expenditure Survey results of 2017-2018, a leaked draft of which showed a decline in consumer spending in rural India. The move also comes against the backdrop of instances of various Financial Service Providers (FSPs) facing problems.
A media report on Friday citing a National Statistical Office (NSO) survey titled, ‘Key Indicators: Household Consumer Expenditure in India,’ allegedly showed that the average amount spent by an Indian in a month fell 3.7% to Rs 1,446 in 2017-18 from Rs 1,501 in 2011-12. While consumer spending declined 8.8% in 2017-18 in India’s villages, it rose 2% over six years in cities, it said.
People were outraged when they saw the leaked report and how India is suffering economically. People and leaders took to social media to hit out at Modi government for shelving the plan to release the survey.
Peri Maheshwer, CEO and chairman of Careers 360, took to Facebook to express his concerns over the consumer survey. Maheshwer in a Facebook post, said '10 Data Points that should worry all of us' and further explained what exactly the people should worry about the most in the consumer spending survey. Here are the points which Maheshwer raised:
1. Consumer spending fell for the first time in more than four decades in 2017-18, mainly led by a sharp 8.8% fall in consumer spending in villages. What is more worrying is a decline in food expenditure seen in villages.
2. India's electricity consumption fell 13.2% in October from a year ago, posting its steepest monthly decline in over 12 years.
3. India's infrastructure output in September contracted 5.2%, the worst in 14 years
4. A total of 11,379 people engaged in the farming sector committed suicide in the year 2016. They comprised 8.7% of total suicides in India.
5. Production of passenger cars fell of 30.22% YoY.
6. GST collections fell below Rs 1 lakh crore mark to Rs 91,916 crore for September, lowest in 19 months. It has been falling YoY for 3 months in a row.
7. India lost 9 Million Jobs in 6 Years, says a study. This is a First in Indian History. In fact, bellweather companies like Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant also joined the long list of companies cutting jobs.
8. Since Nov 2018 and within a year, unemployment rate increased from 6.65% to 8.45%. It never was as bad in a year in India's History.
9. Following India's sovereign rating downgrade to Baa3 from Baa2, Moody's downgrades 14 Indian corporates too.
10. Crisil reports that the value of debt downgraded more than trebled to Rs 1.38 lakh crore in the first half of fiscal 2020 from Rs 39,000 crore in the first half of fiscal 2019.
The move to drop the expenditure survey for a full year which maps consumption patterns in rural and urban India is rare, if not unprecedented.
The decision comes after media reports which pointed to a huge fall in consumption of pulses, spices and other food items amid allegations that the report was being "suppressed" which prompted tweets from the Opposition leaders attacking the government.
The government has been facing criticism over the authenticity of data and there have been earlier controversies over the GDP data. The Ministry on Friday denied the media reports about the report and said it is only a draft and cannot be considered as the final report.
"The Ministry has seen the media reports regarding consumer expenditure survey by the NSS stating that consumer spending is falling and the report has been withheld due to its 'adverse' findings. We would like to emphatically state that there is a rigorous procedure for vetting of data and reports which are produced through surveys. All such submissions which come to the Ministry are draft in nature and cannot be deemed to be the final report," it said.