April 04, 2008
Director of statistics in the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Ms. Laurel Bain in her presentation at a Statistics Symposium organized by the Department of Statistics and Economic Planning on Nevis, hailed the Symposium a long but productive process. Ms. Bain made the comment on April 1, 2008, while she gave a comprehensive analysis to establish progress made about the importance of statistics across the region.
She said over a long period, efforts were made to improve statistics in the region, with numerous reports made and recommendations put forward but implementations were lagged. Notwithstanding, renewed efforts were made to strengthened statistics as the monetary council of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) deliberated in 2007, for renewed efforts to be made to strengthen statistics, in light of the challenges.
“The Monetary Council agreed that a strategic approach to policy making was a prerequisite for sustainable growth and development in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) member countries. [Therefore] The monetary council recommended a number of measures to enhance the policy making process in the ECCU, which included the strengthening of the statistics offices and enhanced the statistical systems for data gathering, processing and dissemination.” Ms. Bain said.
She further indicated that the OECS countries were phased by small economies and the challenges of statistics were recognized as the provision of accurate, comprehensive and timely data. Due to the challenges faced in the region, the Central Bank collaborated with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and hosted an International Conference on Statistics.
Represented at the conference were members of the private and public sectors that were instrumental for the initiatives to be put forward, which would strengthen statistics in the region.
The initiatives were: “Raising the awareness of the importance of statistics by engaging in public education, improving the awareness of the importance of statistics and increasing the demand for statistics by publishing regularly some core statistical indicators, improving the timelines of data by establishing data release calendars and adopting international standards; the strengthening of the rule and functioning of the statistics offices and advancing regional coordination through the establishment of a regional body mandated by treaty with the authority to set work programs and standards.”
Ms. Bain said based on the measures put in place to guide the region on the awareness and importance of statistics, the Statistics Symposium held on Nevis would only strengthened the critical interface needed between the Department and the people of Nevis, to achieve the objectives and produce high quality timely data for effective policy making.
Meantime Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance in the NIA Mr. Laurie Lawrence said the problem on Nevis aroused due to data producers who believed their information would be use for tax purposes. There were others who did not rely on statistics, thus they did not attach any importance to the collection, collation and publication of statistics.
“I want to say to you today that statistics is not just for passive monitoring and publishing of past development but as a basis for real life decision making by individuals, Government, businesses and Economic agencies. In general, statistics would help to predict and look at the future.
He illustrated why the symposium was currently important and why statistics was important for strategic planning and sustainable development.
“Statistics on the movement of prices which we refer to as inflation was used for rate bargaining by trade unions and other groups seeking to increase personal emoluments, so information and inflation was extremely important with wage bargaining. Central bankers needed good quality statistics to carry out monetary policy. The central bank actually affects the economic environment and must be in a position to obtain the best possible information to make decisions
“Governments need timely and quality data to inform economical polices and to ensure sustainable development. Government’s that plans without data is not likely to be sustainable because they would be relying to a large extent on just instincts and that cannot work, you need hard facts in order to make decisions on economic and social policies,” he said.
Mr. Lawrence said to improve the quality of life, the people in Nevis should change their culture and begin to utilize statistics as a basis for decision making. This he said was the purpose for the symposium. “To encourage the general public to make decisions with the aid of reliable, accurate and timely information and if the Statistics Department were to be empowered, the public must supplied raw data in a timely manner. It is a collaborative effort and if we fail to plan then we plan to fail.”
He hoped the symposium inspired attendees, as they work together to move Nevis on a path of sustainable development.