New Delhi: India’s economic statistical releases for March and April are likely to be incomplete, if not delayed, as coronavirus-related precautions and a 21-day nationwide lockdown disrupt field data collection.
“We have suspended work from March 18,” Chief Statistician Pravin Srivastava said in an interview. “We will have to take stock of data that has been collected. It’s premature” to say whether inflation numbers would be released next month, he said.
India has already deferred work on a population register as well as surveys related to its once-in-a-decade census exercise. While that may hinder framing of broader economic policies based on population and demographics, the delay of high-frequency indicators such as inflation and industrial production may cloud the near-term assessment of economic trends.
Consumer price inflation eased to 6.6% in February from 7.6% in January and numbers for March are due April 13. But even if the data is released it’s unlikely to capture comprehensive trends for the entire period, including whether or not prices spiked due to panic buying of essential goods ahead of the lock down.
The Reserve Bank of India, which targets inflation in a range of 2%-6%, is due to announce its interest rate decision April 3 amid the nationwide shutdown that started Wednesday. It may have to rely on fractured data for its next policy decision in June.
Factory output data scheduled for April 9 will be released as planned as the numbers are for the month of February, Srivastava said. – Bloomberg