The Telegraph
Saturday , December 10 , 2011
Since 1st March, 1999
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Export data glitch out in open

Khullar: Number woe

New Delhi, Dec. 9: The government today admitted it had overestimated the merchandise export during April to November by $9 billion, but shipments still grew 33.2 per cent during the period.

“Every number for the last eight months has been revised,” commerce secretary Rahul Khullar said, conceding the crucial balance of trade deficit was also kept under-valued at $107 billion instead of $116.8 billion.

Khullar said the overestimation was because of the mis-classification of data entry regarding some sectors such as engineering, petroleum products and gems and jewellery.

The computer software being used to transfer data (Icegate) had also crashed for some time and was upgraded later, leading to problems in data entry.

“While there has been an overestimation of engineering exports by $15 billion, there has been an underestimation of exports of petroleum products and gems and jewellery by $12 billion,” Khullar said.

The mistakes in the export numbers have been corrected and the problem is solved now, he said. Import numbers are, however, reliable and therefore there is no change in import data.

Despite the revision in data, Khullar said “exports are still doing pretty well. (Earlier) you thought it (growth) would be 40-45 per cent, now it is down to 33 per cent (during April-November this fiscal)”.

Exports in November were worth $22.3 billion, while imports for the month were to the tune of $35.9 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $13.6 billion, according to provisional data released by the commerce ministry.

“Weak rupee will make exports more competitive, but it will also make imports more expensive. As a net importer, that isn’t good news for India,” Khullar said.