April 1, 2008
The Department of Statistics and Economic Planning saw it first ever Statistics Symposium came to fruition on April 1, 2008 under the theme, “The Quality of the Data that we collect today can affect the quality of your life tomorrow.”
Minister responsible for Statistics and Economic Planning in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) the Hon. Premier Joseph Parry in his keynote presentation made at the Opening Ceremony, underscored the importance of statistics which would enable effective implementation of Government policies. Premier Parry further added that awareness for quality data must also be demonstrated by the various government Departments.
“Awareness must begin with all of the Government Departments, Tourism, Agriculture, Immigration, Customs and Education. I Hope what I have addressed will be the needs and the effectiveness of the dept. I suspected the work of the department would be done and must have priority even if the level of awareness was low, the Department of Statistics and Economic Planning must function effectively,” he said
Premier Parry indicated the Department of Statistics must also convince the private sector that statistics garnered from them would not be used at a disadvantage and their data collected was important to government.
He made reference to the World Bank procedures for statistics use as guide to assist developing countries.
“The World Bank came here [Saint Kitts and Nevis] and they looked at the statistics and sometimes the World Bank was supposed to make up its own and determine what type of policies Nevis must pursue to a point of being sustainable or to instruct us whether we are in a hazardous position. Quite often some of the Institution’s decisions may hurt us rather than help us.
“Although, I must be quick to say the World Bank became somewhat more in tune with the Politics and the Economics for small developing countries. The Institution no longer made policies that applied to developed countries and made them applicable to developing countries in the Caribbean,” he said
The inaccurate population count for Nevis was also significant. Premier Parry said no one could quote the accurate count in order for government to fulfill its responsibilities.
“I am quite sure no one in this room can tell me the population of Nevis. I certainly don’t know and some people say it is twelve or fourteen thousand. It depends on if we were to do a proper population count.
“How can we plan in terms of hospitals, police or security? All of these things are impacted on knowing the population for Nevis.” He added.
Premier Parry stated that the NIA depended heavily on the Department’s statistics in order for the government to be kept abreast of important situations. He said in terms of the movement of goods between St Kitts and Nevis, Nevis does not have a dollar value on goods. Premier Parry said the way the island’s economy was spelled out, GDP calculations was difficult and was an issue that needed to be resolved to foster serious planning for Nevis.
He said an effective tax machine would be in place soon and was heartened by the dedication demonstrated by the Department to emphasize the importance for quality data.
“We are going to have serious planning in Nevis and they are going to have an effective tax machine. We must have answers to these even if the answers were practical and done in an educated way. As I look at the Department’s strength, I feel like we are going in the right direction.”
The Minister of Statistics and Economic Planning said the NIA was currently looking to provide Food Baskets and were taken up with inflationary price movements and the cost of living index year after year should be looked at from a Nevis perspective. Premier Parry indicated they were unsure if they were dealing with $1million or $10 to $15 million per annum. This he said was not directly known to the Ministry of Finance.
The Department of Statistics and Economic Planning received commendations from Premier Parry for organising the Symposium and for recognising the absence of quality data. Their endeavour to improve the Department’s responsibility to enhance the quality of statistics would make the Government, the Department’s staff and the people of Nevis proud.
The Symposium’s Opening Ceremony was chaired by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Mr. Laurie Lawrence. Remarks were also made by Director of Statistics at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Ms. Laurel Bain, with Vote of Thanks by Ms. Beverly Harris.
A Symposium proceeded later and was chaired by Permanent Secretary in the Department of Physical Planning, Natural Resources and the Environment, Communications and Works in the NIA Mr. Ernie Stapleton. Presentations made were done respectively by the Head of the Department of Statistics and Economic Planning in the NIA Mrs. Eren Hanley, Director of Statistics for the ECCB Ms. Laurel Bain and Mr. Carlton Phipps from the Statistics office on St Kitts.
The topics presented were, “Functions of the Department,” by Mrs. Eren Hanley, “Data requirements for effective Policy Making: A Situation Analysis,” by Ms. Laurel Bain and “Legal Framework for Data Collection on St Kitts,” by Mr. Carlton Phipps.
The Symposium was attended by a cross section of persons from the various Government Departments, Business and private sectors on Nevis.