State Minister Welcomes Move to Establish National Statistics Framework

Photo: Mark Bell State Minister in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Fayval Williams (2nd left), is briefed on details of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica’s National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDS) by Director General, Carol Coy (2nd right), following the opening of a stakeholders’ training workshop at the Terra Nova Hotel in St. Andrew on Tuesday, July 18. Also listening are (from left): Regional Programme Coordinator, Asia-Pacific and Small Island Developing States, Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21), Millicent Gay Tejada; and United Nations Development Programme Deputy Resident Representative in Jamaica, Dr. Elsie Laurence Chounoune.

Story Highlights

  • State Minister in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Fayval Williams, has welcomed work by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) to establish a National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDS).
  • This, she says, will facilitate the creation of a systematic and reliable network across Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for the timely provision of data for which she noted there is “growing demand” locally.
  • She pointed out that inter-agency data access from administrative and official sources is inconsistent, adding that “the quality of the information is not guaranteed as the data is not always compiled for statistical purposes.”

State Minister in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Fayval Williams, has welcomed work by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) to establish a National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDS).

This, she says, will facilitate the creation of a systematic and reliable network across Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for the timely provision of data for which she noted there is “growing demand” locally.

She was speaking at the opening ceremony for a three-day public sector NSDS stakeholders’ training workshop at the Terra Nova Hotel in St. Andrew on Tuesday, July 18, where the Strategy was launched.

She noted that while many entities such as the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and STATIN collate and analyse statistics suited to their needs, there needs to be a reliable information sharing framework across MDAs.

Mrs. Williams said the main challenge, as identified by STATIN, is the lack of coordination among the entities regarding collecting and storing data.

She pointed out that inter-agency data access from administrative and official sources is inconsistent, adding that “the quality of the information is not guaranteed as the data is not always compiled for statistical purposes.”

The State Minister noted that, currently, information sharing between Government bodies was not legally mandated and is, for the most part, shared at the discretion of the relevant agencies.

Additionally, Mrs. Williams said the information is often unavailable for use by other agencies “because officers are either unaware it even exists or are unable to access it.”

“This is a hurdle that we must overcome. These are areas of opportunity that we can work on to help reduce bottlenecks and red tape and improve access. I must, therefore, commend STATIN for leading the charge among local stakeholders in this regard and urge other Government agencies to begin the conversation towards creating partnerships that will lead to statistical platforms that can aid national development,” she said.

Mrs. Williams cited the recent launch of Jamaica’s National Summary Data page (NSDP) as an example of this level of cooperation.

The NSDP, which resulted from work involving the Ministry, STATIN and Bank of Jamaica (BoJ), allows for the publication of certain key macroeconomic indicators on Jamaica in a one-stop web portal.

Mrs. Williams said this information is critical for monitoring Jamaica’s economic performance and provides easier access to public and private sector stakeholders, researchers and international data users, including investors and rating agencies.

The NSDP constitutes part of Jamaica’s participation in the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Enhanced General Data Dissemination Standards, and is an important step towards the country’s subscription to the more stringent Special Data Dissemination Standard.

“Systems, such as this, demonstrate a level of integration that investors find appealing because it means they can be strategic in the legwork they must undertake, and this drives growth,” the State Minister said.

The NSDS will provide guidelines for the development of statistics consistent with the long-term National Development Plan – Vision 2030 Jamaica, which seeks to position the island to achieve developed country status by 2030 and, in the process make Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.

Mrs. Williams said that as a statistical tool, the Strategy would assist in harmonising information essential in planning, monitoring and evaluating the country’s development.

In this regard, the NSDS will comprise a detailed action plan for the production and dissemination of statistics over a period of five to 10 years, inclusive of capacity development needs, and requisite institutional and infrastructural improvements.

“The provision of data to monitor Vision 2030, the (United Nations post-2015) Sustainable Development Goals and the CARICOM Regional Statistics Work Programme, demands strong coordination and the strengthening of statistical capacities. Similarly, the NSDS will provide the pathway to the development of a robust, reliable platform,” Mrs. Williams added.

The NSDS is being undertaken with technical assistance from the Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21), which comprises national, regional and international statistics experts and policymakers who focus on improving evidence-based decision-making in developing countries, in tandem with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

In her remarks, STATIN’s Director General, Carol Coy, said the NSDS’ Action Plan would also guide the development of a National Statistics System (NSS) for Jamaica.

“The objective of the NSS is to ensure coordination and cooperation among producers and users of official statistics in order to advance standardisation, quality, consistency, comparability and the use of evidence as the basis for policy choices and decision-making,” she added.

For her part, PARIS21 Secretariat Asia-Pacific and Small Island Developing States Regional Programme Coordinator, Millicent Gay Tejada, said the organisation is committed to supporting the Government of Jamaica’s undertaking to institute a statistics strategy “which will contribute in monitoring and reporting on the progress of development in the country.”

The UNDP’s Deputy Resident Representative in Jamaica, Dr. Elsie Laurence Chounoune, who also endorsed the NSDS, said the entity “will continue to offer any technical and financial support that we can mobilise.”

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