STATIN a key mea­sure of de­vel­op­ment

Jamaica Gleaner - - CELEBRATING 70 YEARS OF PROVIDING STATISTICS -

GOV­ERN­MENTS OF in­de­pen­dent Ja­maica have long had a fo­cus on the de­sign and im­ple­men­ta­tion of poli­cies to en­hance the well-be­ing of Jamaicans. In­creas­ingly, how­ever, there is a na­tional recog­ni­tion that while ac­tions out­side the con­trol of Jamaicans can have sig­nif­i­cant im­pacts on na­tional de­vel­op­ment, the coun­try has to take far greater re­spon­si­bil­ity for im­prov­ing its de­vel­op­ment prospects through ap­pro­pri­ate pol­icy de­sign and ef­fec­tive pol­icy im­ple­men­ta­tion.

The crises fac­ing Ja­maica, rep­re­sented in its de­clin­ing but still un­sus­tain­ably high debt level, its very slow rate of eco­nomic growth, and its lack of ad­her­ence to the rule of law, as demon­strated, for ex­am­ple, in a hor­rific mur­der rate and bla­tant dis­re­gard for en­vi­ron­men­tal and waste dis­posal laws, have con­cen­trated the minds of well-think­ing Jamaicans on the im­por­tance of a na­tional process of tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for sus­tain­able and in­clu­sive de­vel­op­ment.

Ap­pro­pri­ate pol­icy de­sign and ef­fec­tive pol­icy im­ple­men­ta­tion, how­ever, need to be driven by data and anal­y­sis. This is the area in which Ja­maica re­lies on its data-col­lec­tion agency, the Sta­tis­ti­cal In­sti­tute of Ja­maica (STATIN). As STATIN cel­e­brates its 70th an­niver­sary, it is seized of the im­por­tance of un­der­gird­ing the pol­icy de­sign process by pro­vid­ing data in as ac­cu­rate and as timely a man­ner as pos­si­ble.

LEVEL OF IN­CLU­SIVE­NESS

Many of the coun­try’s eco­nomic sta­tis­tics are linked to the value of goods and ser­vices pro­duced, known as the gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP), which is mea­sured by STATIN on a quar­terly and an­nual ba­sis. While Ja­maica is fo­cused on in­creas­ing GDP lev­els, it also wants GDP growth to be in­clu­sive, ben­e­fit­ing as many Jamaicans as pos­si­ble. One mea­sure of the level of in­clu­sive­ness of growth is the na­tional em­ploy­ment level, which is mea­sured by STATIN on a quar­terly and an­nual ba­sis through its labour force sur­veys.

A key mea­sure of de­vel­op­ment is the level of GDP per per­son. Not only does STATIN mea­sure the coun­try’s GDP, its de­cen­nial counts of the en­tire pop­u­la­tion, through the cen­sus, de­ter­mine the num­ber of Jamaicans liv­ing in the coun­try so that the GDP per per­son can be mea­sured. Dur­ing the in­ter-cen­sal years, STATIN also pro­vides an­nual es­ti­mates of the pop­u­la­tion.

An im­por­tant foun­da­tion for macro-eco­nomic sta­bil­ity in any coun­try is the level of in­fla­tion. Macro-eco­nomic sta­bil­ity is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant to the de­vel­op­ment of small economies. In­fla­tion is mea­sured by STATIN in the form of monthly up­dates of the con­sumer price in­dex and the pro­ducer price in­dex.

The de­vel­op­ment of small economies is also tied closely to their level of in­te­gra­tion within the world econ­omy, which is rep­re­sented partly through trade lev­els, mea­sured by STATIN in its es­ti­mates of the level of ex­ports and im­ports of goods and ser­vices.

EN­VI­RON­MEN­TAL POL­ICY

STATIN also pro­vides im­por­tant data on so­cial in­di­ca­tors of de­vel­op­ment and dis­ag­gre­gated data that can as­sist in the for­mu­la­tion of en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy.

STATIN is also the agency that is the in­ter­face be­tween Ja­maica and in­ter­na­tional ef­forts at data gath­er­ing. The global com­mu­nity, for ex­am­ple, led by the United Na­tions, has agreed on a set of sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment goals (SDGs) de­signed to im­prove the well-be­ing of as many res­i­dents of the planet as pos­si­ble. In so do­ing, there is a recog­ni­tion that, as in na­tional pol­icy, the mon­i­tor­ing of global per­for­mance in achiev­ing SDGs re­quires ap­pro­pri­ate sta­tis­ti­cal data to as­sess progress and in­form pol­icy.

Ac­cord­ingly, the United Na­tions has es­tab­lished an in­ter-agency group on SDGs (IAED-SDG) to de­velop the in­di­ca­tors needed to mon­i­tor the progress to­wards achiev­ing these goals. Ja­maica, through STATIN, is a mem­ber of the IAED-SDG, as one of two rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Caribbean. In­deed, as is the case with other Jamaican in­sti­tu­tions, STATIN has per­formed an in­sti­tu­tional lead­er­ship role within the English-speak­ing Caribbean.

Al­though the data pro­vided by STATIN are critical to the de­vel­op­ment of pol­icy, it is es­sen­tial that the In­sti­tute con­tin­ues to be in­de­pen­dent in its data col­lec­tion ac­tiv­i­ties, with its of­fi­cers and man­agers hav­ing a pro­fes­sional in­ter­est only in the qual­ity of the data-col­lec­tion process, but not in the re­sults of data col­lec­tion. There are coun­tries whose sta­tis­ti­cal agen­cies have be­come so politi­cised that they, and the data they gen­er­ate, have no cred­i­bil­ity lo­cally or in­ter­na­tion­ally. One of the strengths of STATIN is that there has not been po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence with its data col­lec­tion, anal­y­sis, and dis­sem­i­na­tion ac­tiv­i­ties, for which suc­ces­sive Jamaican ad­min­is­tra­tions and the pro­fes­sional of­fi­cers and man­agers of the in­sti­tute must be com­mended. ALVIN G. WINT Chair­man

Al­though the data pro­vided by STATIN are critical to the de­vel­op­ment of pol­icy, it is es­sen­tial that the In­sti­tute con­tin­ues to be in­de­pen­dent...

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