FM Arun Jaitley backs CSO's GDP projection, says wrong to question its integrity

Defending the CSO over the latest GDP figures, finance miniter Arun Jaitley said that one should not question CSO's integrity on Q3. Jaitley was addressing a press conference in Varanasi, which would go to polls on March 8.

Defending the CSO over the latest GDP figures, finance minister Arun Jaitley said that one should not question CSO's integrity on Q3. Jaitley was addressing a press conference in Varanasi, which will go to polls on March 8.

He said, "Opposition were misleading the country over demonetisation impact but now the situation has been changed". He added that the GDP figures made the Congress party depressed.

The Congress dubbed the GDP numbers as "surprising" and "highly suspect" that could dent India's global credibility and accused the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister of "misleading" the public.

Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said the GDP numbers released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) are "misleading" as these do not factor in the adverse impact of demonetisation, including losses in jobs and production.

Buoyed by higher-than-expected GDP growth, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said a 7 per cent expansion in third quarter belies exaggerated claims of note ban impact on rural economy.

Tuesday's robust GDP figures had left economists dazed. Annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the October-December period came in at 7.0 percent, a tad slower than 7.4 percent in the previous quarter but much faster than the 6.4 percent expansion forecast by economists in a Reuters poll.

It was also higher than China's 6.8 percent growth for the last three months of 2016.

PM Modi's decision last November to outlaw old 500 rupee and 1,000 rupee banknotes was widely expected to exact a heavy toll on an economy where most people are paid in cash and buy what they need with cash.

The government as well as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), however, all maintained the pain would be short-lived and predicted a sharp economic rebound.

"The numbers completely negate the kind of negative projections and speculations which were made about the impact of demonetisation," Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das told reporters after the data release.

(With inputs from agencies)