Finance Ministry Secretly Corrects Data Discrepancies In Union Budget 2020
India Today found a disparity in the figures of budgetary allocation for many schemes and programmes under the Department of Health and Family Welfare.
In her Union Budget 2020 speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that data must have strong credibility to combat the difficulties of real-time monitoring in the Indian economy, adding that the phrase "data is the new oil" has now become a cliché.
Sitharaman proposed a policy to increase focus on credible data-driven analysis, under private sectors, building data centre parks throughout the country. "It will enable our firms to skilfully incorporate data in every step of their value chains," FM Sitharaman said.
Contrasting the finance minister's ambitious claims, the budget documents were found with multiple discrepancies.
On analysis of the documents on expenditure Budget, India Today found a disparity in the figures of budgetary allocation for many schemes and programmes under the Department of Health and Family Welfare.
The documents were available on the official budget website in two file formats, PDF and Excel files. However, the figures in both files were different.
These incorrect figures have now been secretly rectified.
After analysing the flaws, India Today wrote to the Department of Expenditure under the Finance Ministry, demanding the ministry's explanation on the same.
- The questions were: Why is there a discrepancy of data on budget allocation for different heads under the Department of Health and Family Welfare as presented in the two files (PDF and Excel) in the Union Budget?
- In light of these discrepancies in data, which of the two files (PDF or Excel) should be considered as the official and correct document?
- Will the government revise these documents and issue a fresh document on budget allocation for different heads under the Department of Health and Family Welfare? By when will this new document be released for public and presented in Parliament?
This email was sent at 11:12 am on Tuesday, February 4, to which the response is still awaited.
However, in the same time period, the finance ministry secretly made changes to its Excel sheet and uploaded the same on the official budget website on Wednesday morning.
The copies of both the old and new excel files are with India Today. Figures in the updated Excel file are now the same as the PDF file.
These data discrepancies in the Union Budget were somewhat similar to the Economic Survey that was sourced from Wikipedia.
Wikipedia, though popular, is not considered to be a credible source of information. It is a website where anyone can edit contents of any article, a fact that compromises with its credibility, India Today reported.