Former CEA Arvind Subramanian questions India's GDP growth

New Delhi: Former chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian said on Friday that India's latest gross domestic product, or GDP, numbers were “absolutely puzzling” and difficult to understand. His comments come as India's economy grew at a better-than-expected 8.4 percent in the final three months of 2023 – the fastest pace in a year and a half.

“I want to be honest with you about the latest GDP numbers, I just can't understand them. I say that with real respect and all. They are absolutely enigmatic. They do not fit together. I don’t know what they mean,” Subramanian said while addressing a conclave here.

The NSO has also revised GDP estimates for the first and second quarters of this fiscal year to 8.2 percent and 8.1 percent from 7.8 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively. Elaborating further, Mr. Subramanian further said that while the inflation implied in these figures is 1 to 1.5 percent, the actual inflation in the economy is somewhere between 3 to 5 percent. “The economy is growing by seven and a half percent, although private consumption is at three percent,” he said.

And in the latest data, Mr Subramanian said errors and omissions that are not taken into account actually account for about 4.3 percentage points of the estimated 7.6 per cent growth for FY24. “So there are a lot of numbers involved that I don’t understand. I'm not saying these are wrong. Others will have to judge that,” said the former CEA.

According to Subramanian, while there are rumors that the economy has become a very good place to invest in the last few quarters and years, in fact it has contracted very sharply. “You can see that foreign direct investment has actually fallen quite sharply,” he said.

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