The president of the National Statistics Institute (INE) resigns. Juan Manuel Rodríguez Poo presented his resignation late this afternoon “for personal reasons”, as confirmed by sources from the agency and as stated in a statement published at eleven o’clock at night by the Ministry of Economy.
This resignation comes after the Government has harshly criticized the statistical agency for its calculations of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Consumer Price Index. Ministers such as Social Security, José Luis Escrivá, and Finance, María Jesús Montero, have openly pointed out that the tax collection and affiliation figures indicate a much better evolution of the economy than what the INE now shows in its figures of GDP.
Although the head of the INE has formally resigned, Rodríguez Poo is leaving after the Ministry of Economy had sent him a letter last Thursday announcing his dismissal after knowing the same Thursday the economic vice president, Nadia Calviño, the downward revision of the GDP : from 0.3% to 0.2%, in a first quarter marked by inflation, the omicron variant and the carriers’ strike. The data on the economy left Spain at the tail of Europe in the recovery from the pandemic.
Regarding inflation, the Government criticized the fact that the INE was not calculating the so-called free electricity rate in its CPI calculations, the one that covers 60% of families, clients freely agree with companies and is usually more stable. although in the long run more expensive. It only included the evolution of the regulated rate, and consequently reflected a larger increase because it is directly linked to wholesale prices and these have risen sharply since the end of last year. On the other hand, the free contracts will assume increases later in a more progressive way, as they incorporate the new reality of prices and the offers end.
For the Government, the INE has failed to respond to these problems in calculating the CPI. For its part, the statistical institute has argued that it was not getting good data from the power companies.
The Government had a plan to modernize the INE that includes greater use of public records to the detriment of surveys. when posting The confidential last Friday the dismissal, the Ministry of Economy replied that it would still have to see if Rodríguez Poo’s departure fit in with this plan. The idea is that the former Secretary of State for Social Security, Israel Arroyo, who had announced his resignation last week, fill the post. If the appointment is confirmed, the INE will have a former senior government official in charge for the first time in its history. Two months ago there was already speculation that Arroyo would take the reins of the institution.
The Association of Senior State Statisticians, in a statement published this Monday, has indicated that never until now had a president of the INE been removed without mediating a change of government. He admits that there may be a legitimate debate about the statistics, but points out that the Ministry of Economy had never questioned the statistical institute to the point of creating its own indicators of activity. “The INE methodology is rigorous and is endorsed by the European agency Eurostat,” he recalls. And he adds: “In these circumstances, a dismissal of the president of the INE could be interpreted by society as an attack on the independence of the institute, motivated by the fact that the figures published by the INE of some relevant statistics are not in tune with the government’s economic forecasts. The association asks that the temporary mandate of the president of the INE be established by law “to preserve his operational neutrality and so that he is protected from possible pressure from political interests.”
In a press release titled “The Government reinforces the state statistical system with a legal reform and a new statute for the INE”, the Ministry of Economy announced on Monday night that Rodríguez Poo is leaving the agency for personal reasons. “The reform of the Law of the Public Statistical Function, the first since its enactment in 1989, will make it possible to intensify the use of new sources of information such as administrative records and the big data, which will result in higher quality and a reduction in costs”, says the statement. And he adds: “The current president of the INE, Juan Manuel Rodríguez Poo, has led this process of modernization and reinforcement of the institution since his appointment in October 2018. Having achieved the objectives, he has expressed his willingness to leave the position for reasons personal. A substitution process is being opened for this position, which is expected to close in the coming days”.