The remodeling that the Government has designed for the National Institute of Statistics (INE) is far from being limited to the departure of its president, Juan Manuel Rodríguez Poo , who resigned and is still waiting for a replacement.
Sources directly related to this controversy assure that there will be more changes in the Statistics leadership, after its members staged a notorious rebellion at the same headquarters of the Ministry headed by the first vice president, Nadia Calviño ( although Economy officially denies that this meeting took place ).
According to those sources cited above, the cause of the confrontation between Calviño and the highest-ranking technicians of the INE is found in the revision of the Spanish GDP data, relative to the first quarter of this year, which were released last month.
Before its publication, Economy already feared that this new calculation would bring bad news. It was inevitable from the moment that Statistics began to recognize that its preliminary estimate on GDP (published in May) had overweighted the growth of the economy, placing it at 0.3% quarter-on-quarter , when its true value was 0.2 %.
Vice President Calviño wanted to personally express to the high officials of the INE not only her disagreement with that review, but also her conviction that it was completely unnecessary. Consequently, the also Minister of Economy advocated that the initial calculation of 0.3% be maintained.
The sources consulted assure that this claim by Calviño was backed by the president of Statistics, Juan Manuel Rodríguez Poo. The latter, however, did not have the support of his team in this argument. Quite the contrary, the other high-ranking technicians defended his new calculation and rejected his alteration . As a result, last month the revision of the National Accounts placed the increase in GDP in the first quarter at 0.2% due, among other factors, to the weakness of domestic consumption.
In these circumstances, the resignation of Rodríguez Poo should not be interpreted as the result of a clash with the Government, since it was aligned with Calviño’s theses , contrary to lowering GDP growth. Instead, the INE president’s reaction should be seen as a response to the lack of support he encountered from his own team.
The changes already recognized
From the Ministry of Economy, they assure this newspaper that there is a “reconfiguration of the general directorates” of the Institute , that is, the departments in which the first Statistical officers are located “and this has been publicly announced.”
However, they show that “ensuring that there will be a change in the holders of those positions supposes an excessive anticipation of events “, considering the complexity of the process. Not surprisingly, its processing has yet to begin since it still has to go through the Council of Ministers.
From Economy they insist that the novelties could be reduced to a change in the name of the general directorates or a reduction in the number of them.
Regarding the meeting held in Calviño’s office between the vice president and the leadership of the INE, in the Ministry they claim “they have no record of that meeting” and officially deny it, while rejecting the existence of discrepancies about the calculation of the GDP carried out by the INE.
Other sources, however, assure that there is an important open conflict between Economy and Statistics on a key aspect of the National Accounts: productivity measured according to the number of hours worked.
This variable suffered in the first quarter of this year a reduction of 1.1% according to the revision of data carried out in June. It is a figure that is difficult to reconcile with the record of people registered in Social Security, already higher than the levels of 2019, which the Government presumes.
However, this apparent paradox dissipates taking into account the weight that workers still included in Ertes, the self-employed who receive the benefit for cessation of activity, discontinuous permanent workers or temporary workers in public employment still have in the total number of affiliates. . Many of these workers, even if they are registered with Social Security, have long periods of inactivity or their working hours are less than standard, which reduces the general levels of productivity per hour worked.