Reliability in data collection is one of the foremost objectives any government must aim at. It is due to statistics that analysis and drawing proper conclusions has become a possible task. Governance
Recently, the draft National Statistical Commission (NSC) Bill, 2019 was introduced by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI). The objective is to make data collection more transparent and reliable. The present draft NSC Bill proposes to establish a National Statistical Commission as the nodal and autonomous statutory body for core statistical activities of the country. The Bill also proposes the NSC to be a body corporate.
The C. Rangarajan committee, set up in the year 2000, was set up by the government to review the statistical system of the country. The Commission in its report (submitted in 2001) recommended to establish a permanent National Commission on Statistics that can serve as a nodal, independent and empowered advisory body dealing with all core statistical activities of the country.
However, it also recommended that the Commission can be initially set up through a Government order. In line with this recommendation, on 1st June 2005, the Centre by an executive notification created a National Statistical Commission. The commission, however, lacked statutory backing.
• The commission would comprise a full time Chairman and members nominated from amongst eminent persons, including, Deputy Governor (RBI) as a member of the Commission and the Chief Economic Adviser as its ex-officio member.
• The position of Chief Statistician of India (CSI) has been created to head the National Statistical Office.
• The bill provides for establishing a National Statistical Audit and Assessment Organization (within NSC) with a Chief Statistical Auditor in the rank of Secretary to the GOI.
• To strengthen the autonomy of the Commission, the Bill proposes setting up of an independent secretariat to be headed by a Secretary rank officer of GOI.
• Financial autonomy of the Commission would be ensured by setting up of an independent National Statistical Fund.
• Core Statistics: Nodal empowered body for setting up mandatory standards in respect of Core Statistics defined as statistical indicators which are critical for monitoring the socio-economic policy of the government.
• Standardization: Evolve, monitor and enforce statistical priorities and parameters/standards for data by way of periodical review and audit.
• Rationalization: Ensure strong coordination through close linkage between budget and statistical programming agencies in order to create robust rationalized data.
• Advisory: The NSC can take up suo-moto recognisance of matters related to legislative and administrative policies and technology intervention issues of Center and States, and can advise the government on such matters.
• It is empowered for timely identification, collection, processing and dissemination of reliable rationalized data.
• It encourages other Government agencies to proactively bring forth issues pertaining to the national statistical system for discussion and deliberation.
According to the draft bill, the government shall seek advice from the Commission on any matter relating to official statistics. However, central government or a state government may issue directions as necessary to any government agency under its administrative control along with a report on reasons for not accepting any advice to the commission.
A report on reasons for not accepting any advice of the commission shall be laid before Parliament or a state legislature for 30 days. The NSC shall have power to review the statistical system of any government agency in the light of concepts, definitions, standards, methodologies and established policies, and recommend measures for enhanced performance; to prescribe a code of practice. Also, the Commission shall participate in, and in consultation with the central government coordinate with, national statistical organizations on matters of statistical standards, methodologies and classifications.