The necessity for citizens and governments alike to receive relevant and timely information with which to make important decisions is not being met by the Region’s statistical systems.
“It is clear, even with the best intentions, that national statistical systems are currently not meeting these challenges,” Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell told a high level regional statistical forum on Monday.
In his address to the Second High Level Advo-cacy Forum in St George’s, Grenada Dr Mitchell called for investment “in regional approaches that help to optimise our scarce public resources.” He told the forum that what was required if the Region was to realise the level of statistical development that it needs was “the free movement of people and of minds” which he said must be “encouraged in the sharing of best practices, according to his speech released here by the Caricom Secretariat.
He called on the Region’s statisticians gathered in Grenada to help provide “a roadmap” for statistical development in the Region. “Statistics is not only important for policy-makers but also for providing information to the Citizens of our Region. Our citizens require appropriate statistics to hold their governments and all serious stakeholders, accountable,” he said. It is also important to drive development outcomes that statistics measure through the voices of the people of the Region.
The credibility of statistical information here and the volume of data from the Statistical Bureau has recently come in for strong criticism here.
In his presentation, Mitchell said that countries of the Region are all faced with tremendous and quite similar challenges including low and slow economic growth, high rates of unemployment, high national debt, fiscal imbalances, relatively high levels of poverty and unemployment, high import bill, among others. “It is therefore difficult to address these challenges effectively if we cannot measure their magnitudes accurately,” he said. In addition, the Community must effectively track its progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which statistics will enable it to do.
The Grenada Prime Minister said too the profusion of misinformation in the public domain must be arrested with the timely dissemination of information to the public that would enlighten and empower them to play their specific role in nation building. Further, at this time of unprecedented economic challenges with very limited and stretched public resources, and dwindling grant resources, the necessity for evidence-based policy-making is crucial. “Every development dollar must count. None must be wasted. Governments and citizens alike need relevant and timely information on which to make decisions.”
The forum includes the first ever meeting of the Caricom Association of Professional Statisticians (CAPS) a development which the Grenadian Prime Minister said should provide impetus for the region “to professionalize statistical services” in the respective countries of the Region. “I believe the Association can send that signal and provide a valuable network for statisticians and researchers to develop their craft and maximise their development impact,” he said.
The hosting of this meeting bears testament to the support of development partners like the Caricom Secretariat, European Union (EU), PARIS21 (Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century), CDB and UNDP. The Grenadian leader also noted the continuous support of other organisations (the World Bank, the IMF working through CARTAC, the ECCB, OECS Secretariat, ILO, Statistics Canada, CIDA, the IDB, UNFPA, UNECLAC, UNICEF, UNSD, UNESCO, PAHO UNWOMEN, UWI and all other organisations) that have made, and are making significant contribution in the shaping of the statistical infrastructure in the Region.