Meeting of statisticians in Grenada told--
Critical need for more accurate information in Caribbean

Guyana Chronicle
November 21, 2002

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THE Caribbean Region is at a critical juncture where statisticians are needed more than ever, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance of Grenada, Mr. Lennox Andrews, has said. Andrews noted, too, that the current economic crisis in the Region stemmed from the world economic breakdown.

He, however, contended that had timely and accurate information been available, many of these problems could have been avoided through the putting in place of early corrective or preventive measures.

In this connection, Andrews stressed the importance of building statistical capacity. He was at the time addressing a gathering for the opening session of the CARICOM Statisticians Meetings in Grenada, stated a press release from the CARICOM Secretariat.

It said the Regional statisticians got together for back-to-back meetings from November 11 to 15, 2002 in St. George's, Grenada to discuss critical issues relating to data collection, compilation and dissemination, in support of national and regional priorities and objectives.

The 27th Meeting of the Standing Committee of Caribbean Statisticians (SCCS) and the 10th Meeting of the Regional Census Coordination Committee (RCCC) were convened by the CARICOM Secretariat and hosted by the Government of Grenada.

Noting that development was not only economic but also social, Andres, who declared open both meetings, emphasised the need for sufficient social indicators, and in particular, working towards the development of the theories and models peculiar to the Caribbean. He also expressed the hope that the caucuses would contribute to the conceptualisation of a mechanism for the accelerated completion of the census so that it could provide the information critical for development.

Speaking on behalf of CARICOM, Director, Information and Communication, Ms. Jacqueline Wiltshire Forde referred to the Region's strategy of creating a CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) to offset the negative effects of globalisation and international trade liberalisation with the establishment of a Caribbean Court of Justice to safeguard its integrity.

Noting that trade in services (accounts) for over 60 per cent of economic activity in the Region, she pointed to the difficult international climate and to the many social and economic issues which had to be addressed including HIV/AIDS, rising unemployment and the transition to knowledge-based societies. Ms Wiltshire Forde contended that statisticians were the new artists in a changing world and their role was to paint the true picture of the new environments.

Commenting on the agenda of the meetings, CARICOM Programme Manager, Statistics Dr. Philomen Harrison noted that focus was placed on new and difficult areas including further sensitisation about the need for quality and timeliness in International Merchandise Trade statistics and building on the foundation already laid with respect to International Trade in Services.

In addition, projects and programmes, which would improve social gender and environmental statistics, were endorsed for future action at the level of the national statistical systems. Member States were also made aware of the regional and international policy frameworks for Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and the need to measure their performances.

According to Dr. Harrison, the issue of statistical training was also put firmly among the priorities for follow-up and a resolution calling for the governments to invest in statistical capacity building as a priority was adopted. The SCCS was chaired by The Bahamasí representative, Director for Statistics, Mr. Charles Stewart.

More specific in its focus, the 10th Meeting of the RCCC, chaired by the CARICOM Census Coordinator, Mr. Osmond Gordon, concentrated on the conduct of the Year 2000 Round of Population and Housing Censuses, in which Member States are currently at different stages of completion. The forum afforded exchange of information and experiences, lending support to those Member States being challenged by the exercise.

Appreciation was expressed to those agencies, which provided technical and financial support for these very successful events at the national and regional levels. These included the World Bank, the United Nations Statistical Division (UNSD), EUROSTAT, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

Participants were drawn from CARICOM Member States, Associated States and States with Observer status.

The CARICOM efforts to upgrade statistical capacity in the Community will continue with a focus on a practical approach to implement the 1993 System of National Accounts (SNA) with a proposed workshop now in progress at the headquarters of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) in St. Kitts and Nevis.

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