Montek says fall in poverty figures a statistical problem

Under attack  for pegging the poverty ratio for 2009-10 at 29.8 per cent, down from 37.2 per cent five years ago, the Planning Commission  on Tuesday said the discrepancy between data collected by the government agency and national accounts prompted it to arrive at such an estimate.

Planning panel Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia here said: “I do believe that the discrepancy between the consumer survey and national accounts, is a serious statistical problem.”

The Commission on Monday had released poverty data based on the 66th round of the National Sample Survey (2009-10) data on household consumer expenditure survey. The national accounts, which provide data for national income, is prepared by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO).

As per estimates released Monday, the number of poor in India has declined to 34.47 crore in 2009-10 from 40.72 crore in 2004-05. This was contested by the opposition BJP and CPM.

The data showed that while the average annual decline in poverty in rural areas for 10 years upto 2005 was 0.83 per cent, while the decline was accelerated to 1.6 per cent in another five years to 2010.

Poverty in urban area, according to the data, declined to 20.9 per cent of the total population in 2009-10 from 25.7 per cent in in 2004-05.

The Commission estimates faced criticism in Parliament for its description of poor and the resultant fall in poverty line with the Opposition parties blaming the government for making a dishonest attempt to conceal reality through fraudulent povery figures.

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