Finance Minister: Statistics Are Vital

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Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler, has underscored the importance of statistics, saying local institutions and the international community are demanding more and better quality data.

Mr. Sinckler made this observation today as he addressed the Barbados Statistical Service???s External Stakeholders Consultation on the National Statistical System at the Cave Hill School of Business, at the University of the West Indies.

He noted that even though the resources to provide data were not as plentiful, given the constraints of a small country, the need for statistics was still ever present and becoming greater and greater daily.

The Finance Minister stressed that there was a need to ensure users and producers of statistics had a common understanding of the numbers generated; used common methodologies, standards of production and presentation; and operated within a code of practice that promoted fairness, accountability and transparency, relevance, accessibility and accuracy.

???In this way, duplication of effort is reduced; the production of numbers that reflect the current state of affairs increases and the mistrust that surrounds official statistics is reduced substantially.

???However, there often seems to be a marked difference between the standard measures of important socio-economic variables and the widespread perceptions of these variables by members of the public. The inflation rate, the unemployment rate and the rate of poverty come to mind as fairly contentious measures when we are talking about statistics. This fuels some mistrust in statistics even more and the data around which they generate,??? he stated.

Mr. Sinckler pointed out that there might be many explanations for this gap in the perception of the public of a variable and the statistical measure of that variable. ???The answer may lie in an imperfect measurement process of the correct statistical concept or that the commonly used statistical indicator may no longer be capturing the impact on the citizenry as in the past,??? he explained.

He disclosed that Barbados??? statistical system was moving to a stage where there would be very specific dates for the release of information, but noted that it would put additional pressure on financial, technical and human resources. He said this was necessary to build public integrity and confidence in the system, as well as ensure that policymakers like himself received information in a timely manner.

The Minister reminded the stakeholders that they were extremely important. ???The Barbados Statistical Service is only as good as you are because you give them the basic statistics from which to generate their analyses for the rest of us. So, this has implications, not just for the Statistical Department, but for you as well, relative to staffing and other support systems, which you as entities, as part of the National Statistical System, would have to perform for us,??? he stated.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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