Noth­ing to fear!

STATIN blocked by law from shar­ing busi­ness sur­vey find­ings

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Paul Clarke Sun­day Gleaner Writer paul.clarke@glean­erjm.com

Busi­ness op­er­a­tors are be­ing promised that raw data col­lected in the re­cently launched Ja­maica Sur­vey of Es­tab­lish­ments (JSE) will not be shared with any other agency or author­ity by the Sta­tis­ti­cal In­sti­tute of Ja­maica (STATIN), which is con­duct­ing the sur­vey.

The JSE is an is­land­wide col­lec­tion of data on busi­nesses op­er­at­ing lo­cally and will cover ar­eas re­lat­ing to the num­ber of and types of en­ti­ties op­er­at­ing in Ja­maica, to help guide pub­lic sec­tor poli­cies.

With some busi­ness op­er­a­tors, par­tic­u­larly those op­er­at­ing out­side the tax net, re­port­edly wor­ried that this is a ploy by the Gov­ern­ment to iden­tify them, Carol Coy, di­rec­tor gen­eral of STATIN, moved to al­lay these fears dur­ing a Gleaner Ed­i­tors’ Fo­rum last Thurs­day.

Coy un­der­scored that the law bars STATIN from shar­ing the raw data col­lected dur­ing the JSE.

“I just want to re­as­sure all the busi­nesses that un­der the Sta­tis­tics (Amend­ment) Act 1984, STATIN can­not re­lease any in­for­ma­tion to any­one, in­clud­ing the Gov­ern­ment, the tax author­ity or any pri­vate-sec­tor en­tity, in­for­ma­tion that can al­low some­one to recog­nise you,” said Coy.

“Our data is col­lected for sta­tis­ti­cal pur­poses only. A fail­ure to abide by the law in this case will be legally trou­bling for us at STATIN,” added Coy.

The JSE will cover es­tab­lish­ments based on size, in­dus­try and ge­o­graphic lo­ca­tion.

How­ever, ex­cep­tions will be made for rare ac­tiv­i­ties or in­dus­try seg­ments, and those busi­nesses which are char­ac­terised by a low num­ber of em­ploy­ees, such as doc­tors, den­tists and lawyers.

The project is be­ing un­der­taken by STATIN as part of the Gov­ern­ment of Ja­maica Foun­da­tion Com­pet­i­tive and Growth Project.

Coy noted that the re­sults of the sur­vey will be used to in­form pol­icy.

“The aim of it is to make sure we have this frame from which we can draw a sam­ple to mea­sure what is hap­pen­ing in the Ja­maican econ­omy. So there is ab­so­lutely noth­ing to fear in this sur­vey,” de­clared Coy.

But that was not enough for Robin*, who op­er­ates an un­reg­is­tered whole­sale and a car wash on ad­join­ing prop­er­ties in the Cor­po­rate Area.

Robin told The Sun­day Gleaner that when we con­tacted him it was the first he was hear­ing about the sur­vey, and he was not ini­tially in­clined to par­tic­i­pate.

“Cer­tain in­for­ma­tion I may give I am sure could be used against me. Is just how the sys­tem set, but if they can con­vince me, I will par­tic­i­pate. Hon­estly, I never heard of this sur­vey be­fore, but if it can help my busi­ness grow I doubt there would be any harm in it,” de­clared Robin.

NOT SUR­PRISED

That po­si­tion should come as no sur­prise to Trevor Fearon, CEO of the Ja­maica Cham­ber of Com­merce, who used the Gleaner Ed­i­tors’ Fo­rum to urge the busi­ness com­mu­nity to co­op­er­ate with STATIN.

“I am speak­ing on be­half of all my mem­bers which are reg­is­tered en­ti­ties, and so we would not fall within the large group of per­haps un­reg­is­tered en­ti­ties that may have more of a rea­son to fear,” said Fearon, as he pointed to con­fi­den­tial­ity un­der which STATIN must op­er­ate.

Fearon urged the full co­op­er­a­tion of the busi­ness com­mu­nity, as he noted that the find­ings could help them to make in­formed de­ci­sions.

A fur­ther re­as­sur­ance of con­fi­den­tial­ity was given by Monique Harper-Grif­fiths, pro­cure­ment spe­cial­ists for com­pet­i­tive­ness and growth projects at Plan­ning In­sti­tute of Ja­maica (PIOJ), which is a part­ner with STATIN on the sur­vey.

“We have a ser­vice con­tract be­tween PIOJ and STATIN, and the con­tract specif­i­cally states that the data be­longs to STATIN,” Harper-Grif­fiths told the fo­rum.

*Name changed on re­quest.

KENYON HEMANS/ PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

FEARON

HARPER

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