This island???s Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler, has added his voice to the calls for international financial institutions to re-assess and remove the statistical measure of per capita GDP in determining which countries receive access to concessional financing.

Mr. Sinckler made the call today while delivering the feature address at an opening ceremony for three high-level statistics meetings at United Nations House.

The meetings are the Fortieth Meeting of the Standing Committee of Caribbean Statisticians, the Twenty-Fifth Meeting of the Regional Census Coordinating Committee and the Eighth Regional Statistical Research Seminar.

The Minister told his audience: ???It has been and continues to be an incomplete, incorrect and wholly inconsiderate measure based on what we know constitutes development within the region. It has cut many of our countries, still in their very formative years in their march towards development status, off from concessional financing to the extent where we have been thrown aghast into the stormy waters of the international capital markets and have suffered substantially for it.

???We believe that the data which we collect on an array of issues and that constitute something as poignant and powerful as the United Nations Development Index is a far better way of understanding who should get access to concessional financing and for what reasons.???

He said it was necessary to move away from the aged-old and accepted, though very dangerous practice, of believing that conjecture and anecdotal evidence would suffice for robust policy planning and appropriate interventions. He stressed, therefore, that Caribbean countries must work together to ensure their national systems were strengthened, sustainable, transparent and open.

He continued: ???I am satisfied that we in the Caribbean have worked hard and made substantial strides toward producing quality data, with some gaps in between. But when compared with some other regions, I believe we have done exceedingly well given our resource constraints.

???But I would be even more satisfied and elated if within our region, we can utilise the experiences we have developed over the decades to work with our developmental institutions both national, regional and international to form an appropriately-designed, properly-resourced and sustainable regional development statistical gateway, in which developmental and economic statistics can be gathered at the click of a button in a central place, to better allow us to not just plan our national agenda, but to map them with what is happening within our region and beyond.???

Underscoring the importance of the regional development statistical gateway, Mr. Sinckler said he found it disconcerting that some in the region only seemed to be able to respond ???punctiliously??? when statistical data was demanded by international financial institutions.

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