By Linda Straker
Trade Minister Oliver Joseph is of the opinion that despite the development and use of good statistics, our region is still lagging.
Addressing the opening ceremony of a project aimed at strengthening the statistical system of the Caribbean — in order to address identified gaps to improve socio-economic measures, and support evidence based policy making. Joseph said statisticians, survey specialist and demographers within CARICOM work very hard and make use of the limited resources.
“However, the fact remains that our people are demanding answers to questions with real evidence, facts, numbers and most importantly, official statistics. Most of our statistical offices are still struggling to provide adequate information to policy makers when it is required. In addition to this, the economic challenges in recent times have resulted in the rapidly increasing demand for statistics,” said Joseph.
“We are all challenged with slow or low economic growth in our respective countries; therein lies the need to measure accurately the magnitudes of economic indicators such as our GDP, our external trade positions, and our rates of unemployment and poverty. No longer can we go on “feelings, intuitions and premonitions” to make decisions that should affect the lives of our people in the region,” he added.
Funded by the Government of Canada to the tune of CAD$19.5 million with a lifespan of seven years — April 2015 to March 2022, the Regional Advancement of Statistics in the Caribbean intends to work with the National Statistical Offices (NSO) of 14 eligible CARICOM countries.
There will also be working in collaboration with other organizations active in the region to develop methods, and approaches that can eventually be used by the statistical system of all Caribbean countries.
Specifically, the initiative will focus on four components to:
- Enhance the Systems of National Accounts;
- Improve business statistics by working on a robust business survey infrastructure;
- Improve household statistics, including sex-disaggregated socio-economic indicators, by working on a robust survey infrastructure for household surveys; and
- Improve sharing of statistical information and expertise at the national and regional levels.
“This project has the potential of steering us towards the data revolution that is most imminent, given our current challenges with our statistical systems. It is therefore, up to our statisticians to take full advantage of the presence of statistics Canada in our region over the next 7 years,” said Joseph who said that there is great merit in this project.