Finance Minister Highlights Importance of Statistics

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Jamaica News: Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, says that as the Government continues work to reform Jamaica’s economy and instil a new level of professionalism and prudence in policymaking, official statistics on key developments and out-turns will become increasingly important.

“As we deepen markets in Jamaica, and as we pursue a market economy… as the best form (for) the allocation of resources, and goods and services, data and official statistics are going to be crucially important in the planning process,” the Minister said.

He was speaking at the Statistical Institute of Jamaica’s (STATIN) recent media sensitisation seminar, held at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St. Andrew.

Noting that the role of official statistics in economic development cannot be “over-emphasised,” Dr. Clarke said they are integral to public policy formulation and decision making, as also in the planning and operation of private businesses and enterprises.

Additionally, he said data collated by national statistics agencies are pivotal in establishing a mutual body of knowledge and trade among people and economies in an “increasingly connected” world.

Against this background, the Minister lauded STATIN for its sterling role in compiling and analysing data, and publishing statistics on commercial, economic, and industrial as well as general developments in Jamaica.

Dr. Clarke, who has portfolio responsibility for STATIN, noted that the agency operates within and abides by the international best practices articulated in a Resolution on Official Statistics, which the United Nations (UN) adopted in 1994, and to which Jamaica and a number of other countries are signatories.

He pointed out that the Resolution resulted from a recognition of the pivotal role that official statistics play in the economic growth and development of countries, adding that it is underpinned by 10 guiding principles.

Notable among these, the Minister said, are those regarding relevance, impartiality and equal access, professional standards, accountability and transparency, confidentiality, and safeguards against misuse of information.

Consequently, Dr. Clarke said official statistics constitute an “essential element”in improving a government’s ability to develop appropriate economic and social reform policies.

“In a market economy, you allocate your resources how you best see fit. Now if we don’t have information that summarises all of that activity, then we will be moving forward on a blind basis. So, in a market economy, official data and statistics are indispensable. We are going to need to be a more data-responsible and data-driven (society), if we want to achieve our full potential as a great country and a great nation,”he argued.

The seminar, which was held under the theme ‘Statistics and the Media – Why Understanding Official Data Matters’, was aimed at assisting media practitioners to understand, interpret and present official data accurately.

It focused on the gross domestic product and consumer price index.


Source: JIS News

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