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Real Madrid clear favourites for 3 points in Huesca (Preview)

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Madrid, Dec 8 (IANS) Real Madrid will be confident of taking all three points when they visit bottom side Huesca in La Liga on Sunday afternoon, but coach Santiago Solari still has a couple of issues to resolve with his starting XI.

The main question marks hang over midfielder Isco and forward Marco Asensio, both of whom scored in the 6-1 Copa del Rey win at home to Melilla in midweek, reports Xinhua.

Isco scored two excellent goals in what was his first start since Solari replaced Julen Lopetegui as coach, while Asensio also bagged a brace to push his claim for a place in the starting 11.

With Gareth Bale struggling for form, Solari may be tempted to start Asensio in what is Real Madrid’s penultimate league game before they fly off for the World Club Cup.

Elsewhere, Marcos Llorente looks set to continue in midfield, while Thibaut Courtois returns in goal in place of Keylor Navas, who was given a rare outing in the Copa del Rey.

Rumors in the Spanish media suggest that Navas is unhappy at having lost his place in the side, and will push for a transfer either in January or at the end of the current season.

Meanwhile, Huesca are finding life tough in their first ever season in Spain’s top flight, and have so far failed to win at home.

They have just seven points from 14 matches, with four of those coming in the adrenaline rush of their first two matches of the season. Since then, however, reality has hit home, and their defense has been especially porous, conceding 29 goals and failing to keep a clean sheet in any of this season’s matches.

Huesca’s problems were highlighted in midweek when Athletic Bilbao, who are themselves having a poor season, put four past them in the El Alcoraz Stadium to knock them out of the Copa del Rey 8-0 on aggregate, and anything like a repeat performance on Sunday would see Madrid travel back to the capital with three easy points.

–IANS
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Data not cooked up, GDP figures to go up further: Government (IANS Special)

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By Manish Gupta and Vishav
New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) Refuting charges of destroying the credibility of Indian data, the government said the revised GDP figures for demonetisation year was not cooked up and, in fact, the growth rates are likely to go up further due to the GST.

“It’s not cooked up at all. It’s data driven and real. Nobody has manipulated it. It’s possible that sometimes anecdotally it may appear to be an un-understadable kind of result because of the quirkiness in data which takes place on account of abnormal events like demonetisation,” Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg told IANS.

On January 31, the government revised the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rates by 110 basis points from 7.1 per cent to 8.2 per cent for 2016-17, the year of demonetisation, and by 50 basis points from 6.7 per cent to 7.2 per cent for fiscal 2017-18.

Garg said the growth was reflected mainly in two sectors, construction and financial services, and was absent in sectors like manufacturing and mining when the figures were revised. This was primarily because demonetisation helped the two sectors directly.

“In financial services, the growth is calculated based on several parameters like deposits and many other. Likewise, construction activity went up at that time. There were several incentives which were in place for taking construction activity. The Construction activity actually went up.

“It’s possible that the growth is not reflected in other areas well. There’s no growth revision in manufacturing. There’s no growth revision in mining. It’s possible that it may be quirky but it’s possible,” Garg said, explaining the positive impact of demonetisation on economy.

Apart from defending the possibility of demonetisation jacking up GDP rates, NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar went a step further to suggest that the growth rates will see another revision upwards for the years since Goods and Services Tax (GST) was rolled in.

“By the way, this (upward revision) will happen more with the implementation of GST as there are many sectors that have never given tax. Now they will come inside GST. This will increase further. Manufacturing will grow as more of the unorganised sector gets formalised.

“Revised figures can show the increase for the years since GST has been 2017-18 and 2018-19. I will not be surprised at all. Thousands of garment makers never gave any tax, now they are doing. Suddenly, you see garment industry larger than what it was,” Kumar told IANS.

On demonetisation, he said when nearly half of the economy that was running in black and is now included in the formal economy, it had to show the impact. When people decide to bring out their cash, show it as income and pay tax, it suddenly bumps up the activity, he said.

Though the government defends the recent revision of GDP figures along with the new back series of GDP data released last November, which trimmed growth rates in UPA era making Modi government look better in terms of growth, it rejected the recent data on jobs.

On January 31, the government rejected the leaked National Statistical Commission (NSC) report that showed unemployment rate at a 45-year high saying it was not finalised leading to a major backlash from the Opposition with charges of manipulating data.

“Ours is not a command economy, we don’t produce data on orders. Ours is a decentralised and democratic management system. There are institutions which prepare and publish the data that is there… the credibility of Indian data remains very high,” Kumar said.

However, on the allegations that NITI Aayog, which in the words of former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha “has nothing to do with data and statistics”, got involved, manipulated and revised the figures, Kumar said the Aayog will continue to engage in data.

“NITI Aayog by its very nature must be engaged in improving the statistical system of India. I consider it my duty to make sure our Indian fiscal system is modernised, strengthened and remains as credible as ever. To that extent, NITI Aayog being the think tank that uses data for evidence-based enquiry and policy making will continue to be involved in data,” he stated.

He, however, said the Aayog will never think of usurping whatever the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) does but will remain interested in working with MoSPI to help it evolve so that the quality of data collected is improved and is in sync with each other.

(Manish Gupta can be contacted at manish.g@ians.in and Vishav at vishav@ians.in)

–IANS

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