ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Unaccounted Imports

The 'Unaccounted' Imports ABOUT once a month, coinciding with the release of statistics on the country's merchandise trade for the month by the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCIS), the government issues claims of how the foreign trade deficit is being successfully contained. The government has thus been taking credit for keeping the trade deficit in the first three quarters of 1989-90 down to Rs 5,518 crore compared to a deficit of Rs 6,601 crore in the corresponding period of the preceding year. But what are these claims worth, since it is an established fact now that the DGCIS data leave out a substantial proportion, in value terms, of the imports coming into the country? The Reserve Bank's Annual Report for 1988-89 in fact had considered the matter important enough to merit a table comparing merchandise trade figures as per the DGCIS and the RBI's own balance of payments data. The comparison showed that total imports in the four years 1984-85 to 1987-88 were Rs 79,287 crore according to the DGCIS and Rs 88,205 crore according to the RBI. Reflecting the gross understating of imports by the DGCIS, the trade deficit in the four years taken together was Rs 34,957 crore according to the RBI, Rs 6,502 crore larger than the DGCIS figure of Rs 28,455 crore. All official analyses of trends in foreign trade continue nevertheless to be based on the DGCIS data.

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