The government has decided to merge the Central Statistics Office and the National Sample Survey Office – the two organisations that release data on India’s economic indicators. The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation on May 23 approved the decision to merge the two entities into a National Statistical Office, Business Standard reported on Saturday.

The Central Statistics Office provides data on economic indicators such as the Gross Domestic Product and Index of Industrial Production. The National Sample Survey Office conducts research on matters such as consumption expenditure and unemployment.

“The CSO and the NSSO are two organs of the same body and need to work together,” Chief Statistician of India Pravin Srivastava, who will head the National Statistical Office, told Business Standard. “This is a measure to avoid duplication of work and leverage the strength of the statistical system.” The two entities are under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

Srivastava denied that the move will dilute the independence of the two organisations. He claimed that the lack of “control” over the two bodies is a challenge for the government.

The government’s move is a follow-up to a similar recommendation by the National Statistical Commission in 2005, when it was headed by former Reserve Bank of India Governor C Rangarajan. The Rangarajan Committee had made the recommendation during the tenure of the United Progressive Alliance government.

In August, the National Statistical Commission had released the back series data – older GDP data revised in line with the new series – which showed India’s economy had grown by over 10% for at least one year when the Congress-led government was in power. However, the Central Statistics Office revised the growth figures in November, adjusting the growth rates during UPA rule downwards, a decision the government defended.

The latest data on unemployment reported by the National Sample Survey Office has not been made public. This had led to the resignation of two independent members of the commission in January. Days after they resigned, Business Standard accessed the report and published details about it – including the finding that unemployment rose to a 45-year high of 6.1% in 2017-’18.