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Statement from the Minister Hon. Ryan Straughn MP. on the occasion of Caribbean Statistics Day

“The Future of Statistics”

In this modern and ever-changing environment we are faced with a plethora of social and economic issues, coupled with the need to find and implement suitable solutions. To determine the pertinent issues on which to turn our focus and ultimately provide the best solutions, we need reliable statistics. Statistics is the collection, collation and analysis of data presented in summary; which reflects the social and economic dynamics of any society. Statistics essentially paint a picture of a country’s people, illustrating where and how they live.

Data are critical to understanding the who, what, where, when and why in society; and this is why it is so important to provide timely, trustworthy and accurate information. When analyzed, this information can provide strategic and fundamental solutions to the problems facing our small island community.

We celebrate Caribbean Statistics Day on October 15, each year. This year, the focus will be  on our data being accurate, trustworthy, innovative, timely, comprehensive and reliable. Across the Caribbean, we collectively celebrate the fourteenth iteration  of this day, under the theme “Leave No One Behind… Everyone Counts!“; which highlights the importance of the aforementioned qualities.  The theme Leave No One Behind…Everyone Counts! is especially relevant, because across the Caribbean the 2020 round of the Population and Housing Censuses are being conducted in various territories and the support of every citizen is important for their successful completion.

Due to the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, Census Day in Barbados was 1st August 2021, with Census enumeration starting in the second week of August 2021. Originally, enumeration was intended to last for a period of two to three months. However, the process was extended, due mainly to the high incidence of inclement weather during the period, and the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected both the population and the Census workers. Consequently, it was necessary to extend the enumeration period into the new year, 2022. In-person interviewing of households ended on September 30 2022.

Along with working on the Census, the staff of the Statistical Department also worked on enhancing a number of current statistical outputs. For example, the Tourist Arrivals and Labour Force Survey bulletins were redesigned to make them both more attractive and reader friendly.

Some statistics are in line to be improved in the near future. For instance, the Retail Price Index is scheduled to be rebased to a more current period; similarly the Gross Domestic Product series is also to be rebased to 2018, using all available data sources.

In order to produce statistics about any society access to confidential, reliable data is essential. We need our data to possess the previously mentioned characteristics, for the statistical output to be legitimate and trustworthy. Technology is now widely used and has contributed significantly to the data capture for most of the Department’s principal outputs along with the Census. Technological advances are employed in subsequent data processing and statistical analysis, which aids in our understanding of the results and in decision-making.

In addition, we celebrate Caribbean Statistics Day at a time when we need data the most, as we are battling a global COVID-19 pandemic, in which individuals are experiencing a multitude of socio-economic challenges, in addition to environmental challenges. Hence, data that can be trusted is imperative to stakeholders, so that they can have a better understanding of the problems and trends affecting our economies, environment, and societies.

We must indeed see the whole picture and definitely read the entire story, in order to fully begin to understand the future of statistics. In order to do this, Barbados will therefore undertake significant reform to create a new national statistical system rooted in the ability to mine and produce Big Data Analytics. Evidence-based decision making for both policy makers, consumers, producers and the private sector will be the center of the new thrust for the data revolution and ultimately to support monitoring and evaluation of public policy.

We will bring the entire system of national statistics into the 21st century. As a result,  government entities which produce official statistics will be transformed to  operate in a modern and fast paced environment. With limited financial and human resources available, it is critical to pool all resources into a more effective operating structure to achieve cohesion and to provide better dissemination and visualization of economic and social intelligence. A new legislative framework will be put in place along with greater deployment of technology will foster greater collaboration amongst the various regulators and administrative offices to enhance compliance amongst the various publics.

Access to data is the key to opening the door for future development of statistics. Today especially, we recognize the contributions statistical staff make to ensure that the data compiled reflects the human-side of the story; that is, what is happening behind the numbers. This essential work ultimately improves lives and livelihoods and protects the rights of all, by making evidence-based data available for effective decision-making.

We join with the countries in our region in recognizing today as Caribbean Statistics Day.

Thank you.


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