More work needed to improve local statistics

| 23/10/2017 | 8 Comments

(CNS): The finance minister has admitted that Cayman’s local statistics are underdeveloped when compared to some countries in the region and there is still a long way to go to create a public sector-wide statistical system. Speaking to a group of regional statisticians Monday, Roy McTaggart outlined how important statistics are to good governance and informing policy. Cayman is hosting a number of regional and international statistics meetings and seminars this week for the first time, with an eye on collaborative efforts to help improve the accuracy of data throughout the Caribbean.

McTaggart spoke about the progress government has made in recent years, having invested in the training and recruitment of skilled talent and embraced the increased use of appropriate technology in statistical activities, as well as amending the statistics law.

“These actions are now bearing fruit and we have seen an improvement in the quality and timeliness of our official statistics, which have become more responsive to the informational requirements of our various decision-making processes,” the minister said. “High quality statistics are one of the critical components of sound government policy development and it is through these policies that we impact the lives of our people.”

He said there is a notion that statistics are only relevant to the producers, but he said he believed they are of primary importance to ordinary users, as they help tell a story of what is happening on the ground in countries and how they compare.

“Statistics allow ordinary citizens access to information and help them to independently evaluate the policies and actions of the decision makers,” he said. “The challenge is, how can we, as data users, identify and communicate the public information that we need for good governance? And how can we support their production on an impartial basis? In the case of Cayman, the core data needs for economic governance have been legislated.”

He explained the history of local fiscal reform and the requirement in the Public Management and Finance Law to use core statistics in economic reporting and the investment in the independent production of  the numbers without influence from government. 

“In the last couple of years our statistics function has been a central component of a number of nationally important and high profile projects, such as the Electoral Boundary Commission and the Minimum Wage Advisory Committee,” McTaggart added.

He explained that population statistics informed the shape of boundaries for the new constituencies when the election process was changed to ‘one man, one vote’ in single-member constituencies. The statistics also informed the minimum wage, and emanating from that the ESO launched Cayman’s first Occupational Wage Survey this month to gather detailed data from all employers on the jobs people are employed in and the compensation they get.

Maria Zingapan, Director of the Economics and Statistics Office, also spoke about the importance of statistics for a number of reasons, including the recovery process following the impact of the recent hurricanes in the region.

“In view of the inherent vulnerability of our small islands to disasters and global economic vicissitudes, the importance of the work we are embarking on is even more critical to understanding and mitigating these risks. On the business process side, constantly changing statistical standards have to be met to protect the integrity of official statistics,” she said.

Dr Philomen Harrison, Project Director of the Regional Statistics CARICOM Secretariat, said statistics ought to play a vital role in guiding the reconstruction process and in the future mitigating the impact of these types of disasters as she spoke about the theme for this years meetings of improving the lives of people.  She said that statistics play a part in guiding more prosperous communities including achieving sustainable growth and development.

“The region must ensure that there is an understanding of the vital role of statistics, to strive to produce statistics that are fit for purpose and to continue to promote its use,” Harrison added.

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Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It is funny that, somehow, the only statistics we don’t have (or don’t care to have) are the ones surrounding standardized testing scores of students across all three islands (both private and public).

    That type of statistic would actually be useful in determining where the problems lie (i.e. which schools, which teachers, which students, etc.).

    Everything else is a waste of time.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Lies, damn lies and statistics…twist them how you want to suit your purposes. The great white leader Trumpeldump has shown us we just need the lies, don’t bother about the statistics as they tend to screw your arguments up.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Statistics would always be the way THEY want them to be.
    It is no different anywhere in the world.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Maybe we should actually start hiring the qualified Caymanians who apply to work at the ESO…

  5. Anonymous says:

    Keep your statistics! Leave us alone. We all have enough paperwork to fill and don’t need additional forms to complete especially under the threat of law, repercussions, fines or imprisonment.

    • PD says:

      More of the beurocrates justifying there existence at the regular person’s expense. More red tape and now they say not enough – lets create some more!
      Just give it a break already

  6. Veritas says:

    Perhaps Dr Harrison can produce some statistics showing how many Caricom members are in arrears in their annual dues and name the countries involved.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh go on. Sounds like have a bombshell you’d like to drop. Don’t keep us waiting. Take your moment and run with it.

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