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JIS News

CARICOM member states are being urged to give equal recognition to social indices as is given to economic indices when gathering and analysing data.
“Statistical institutions throughout the region should make a conscious effort to elevate their collection and analysis of social sector issues,” Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. Omar Davies has emphasised.
“We need to monitor social statistics even as we monitor inflation and economic growth,” he added.The Minister was delivering the main address at the opening of the 30th Meeting of the Standing Committee of Caribbean Statisticians at the Hilton Kingston Hotel on October 26.
Dr. Davies noted that Jamaica has tracked economic and social issues simultaneously.
“We have developed a range of variables operating in a framework that tracks economic and social issues at once. So, we operate in a social and economic matrix that treats both variables equally,” he pointed out.
Noting that social indices have been absent from statistics given by some countries in the region, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Fund, Juan Carlos Espinola said that Dr. Davies’ point was a major one. “The social data is as important as economic data when we measure what’s happening in the region,” he said.
The lack of region-wide co-operation in the statistical gathering process is considered a major hurdle, which has to be overcome for smooth and proper implementation of the CSME.
In his presentation, Dr. Wayne Henry, Jamaica’s World Bank Representative pointed out that because of different approaches and analyses, region-wide data gathering was uneven. This unevenness, he suggested, should be addressed immediately, since it not only deterred potential funding agencies, but was crucial for the CSME.
“A 2003 World Bank study said that data availability across the region is uneven. Countries do not use similar methodology when gathering data,” he noted.
There is a need for countries to co-operate and agree on the information to be included in the statistics.
Dr. Henry pointed out that as the joint initiative of data collection proceeded, there should be an improvement in the quality of data and the levels of disparity would erode.
And even as member states work towards a cohesive approach to statistics gathering in light of the imminent CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), there is a region-wide thrust to develop a CARICOM Regional Statistical Work Programme.
Speaking with JIS News, Dr. Philomen Harrison, Programme Manager, CARICOM Statistics Division, noted that the work programme should not only increase efficiency and harmonisation in region-wide statistics gathering, but also “ensure greater access to users”.