December 5, 2020

CARICOM Project Director, Dr Harrison speaks at Cayman Islands Statistics Meeting

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Opening remarks by Dr. Philomen Harrison at the FORTY-SECOND Meeting of the Standing Committee of Caribbean Statisticians (42nd ) (23-25 October 2017) Twenty-Seventh Meeting of the Regional Census Coordinating Committee (27th ) (26 October 2017) and Tenth Regional Statistical Seminar (27 October 2017)

Theme: IMPROVING THE LIVES OF PEOPLE-ADVANCING THE ACTION PLAN FOR STATISTICS IN THE CARIBBEAN

It is an honour for me to welcome you on behalf of the Caribbean Community Secretariat, to the Forty-Second Meeting of the Standing Committee of Caribbean Statisticians (42nd SCCS) the Twenty-Seventh Meeting of the Regional Census Coordinating Committee (27th RCCC) and the Tenth Regional Statistical Research Seminar, which are being held in the Associate Member of Cayman Islands. Cayman Islands has now joined the British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands and Bermuda as being Associate Members that have hosted this major annual statistical meeting.

Last week for some of us we also attended a 2-day Strategic Planning Workshop on the preparation of the CARICOM Regional Strategy for the Development of Statistics (RSDS) and also the Twenty-first meeting of the CARICOM Advisory Group on Statistics (AGS)

I would like to thank the Government and people of the Cayman Islands for hosting this series of statistical meetings. Indeed, given the challenges being faced by countries including those of CARICOM this show of support to the development of statistics in CARICOM is immensely appreciated.

I would like to give special thanks to: Hon. Roy McTaggart, Minister for Finance and Economic Development (MFED);

Mr. Kenneth Jefferson, Financial Secretary and Chief Officer; and Mr. Michael Nixon, Senior Assistant Financial Secretary for being instrumental in the hosting of these meetings

These meetings are occurring at a time when some CARICOM countries and peoples have been left in a state of utter desolation because of the two fierce hurricanes, Irma and Maria in Dominica, Barbuda/ Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, parts of The Bahamas and not to forget Sint Maarten that also attend our meetings.

The loss of lives, the anguish experienced during the hurricanes, the absence of necessities post the storms, loss of property has led to tremendous human suffering. It is fitting that statisticians by consensus chose to retain the theme from the 2016 meetings for the meetings this year, that focuses on improving the lives of people through statistics.

As statisticians, we ask ourselves what can we do before and after these events. Evidently Statistics ought to play a vital role in guiding the reconstruction process and in the future mitigating the impact of these types of disasters on the populations of these countries including the most vulnerable among us so that one of the key objectives of the 2030 Agenda of leaving no one behind and to reach the furthest behind first, comes to live. While we will be focusing on the 2030 Agenda during the 42nd SCCS it is hoped that during the Tenth Regional Statistical Research Seminar we can have some discussions on CARICOM SIDS and Statistics in the Context of Disasters- What is the role of statistics in mitigating the impact of such events on the population but also safeguarding our own interests -the statistical products from the impact of disasters?

Our meetings this week are also occurring at a time when The Thirty-Eighth Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) which was held at Grand Anse, Grenada, on 4-6 July 2017, approved the preparation of a Regional Strategy for the Development of Statistics (RSDS) – work is going on apace by the statisticians of the region through the support of PARIS21 in designing this CARICOM RSDS which would provide us with the overarching strategic directions to pursue a vibrant statistical developmental programme that can provide the guidance to a more prosperous Community including achieving sustainable growth and development.

Fundamentally, given our status as Small Island Developing and Low lying States (SIDS) it is hoped that the RSDS and its costing can attract required and appropriate funding and investment from CARICOM governments and from International Development Partners to treat with the unique challenges we face in attempting to develop our relatively small statistical agencies and to take into consideration what is manageable and sustainable and the best way of strengthening capacity in this context.

The meetings this week will also include focus on the 2020 Round of Population and Housing Census and there would be opportunities to deliberate on the proposed regionally-coordinated strategy for the 2020 Census Round work of which has already commenced with the convening of a very vibrant meeting in May 2017 to deliberate on a common census questionnaire.

The phenomenon of big data and the new data economy in general characterised by some of the most lucrative firms is making an impact and will make an impact in our daily lives. Statistics therefore must not be simplistically viewed as cross-cutting but must be part of the developmental discourse – the new commodity- part of the data economy and should be appropriately funded. Like a good batsman we must always keep our eye on the ball and statisticians of the region must ensure that there is an understanding of the vital role of statistics, to strive to produce statistics that are fit for purpose and to continue to promote its use.

I would like to thank all the IDPs that are supporting the development of statistics, I mentioned PARIS21 but UN WOMEN, IDB, UNFPA, ECLAC CARTAC/IMF, that is attending the SCCS meeting for the first time, the Governments of Canada and Italy, the European Union, of course the Caribbean Development Bank that has supported attendance of participants the meetings – without this support this meeting might not have been possible.

[I would also like to welcome those Directors/designate that are attending the SCCS for the first time in that capacity- Guyana.]The Bahamas, Montserrat

There are increasing challenges manifested through reduced human and financial resources that are being experienced by the staff of the National Statistical Offices in attempting to execute even the most basic operations – statisticians of the CARICOM Region must be congratulated for continuing to aim towards the stars in producing the statistics that are relevant to both country ad region-we must continue to dream big- it is stated that the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams- as impossible as they may seem – we must ensure that our dream of a resilient national statistical system producing data for the betterment of our Community becomes a reality.

I close by once again thanking the Government and people of the Cayman Islands for having us here and for all the courtesies that they have extended to us so far.

We look forward to fruitful discussions and decisions that can take us to the next level in enabling the production of harmonised, high quality statistics to improve the lives of the people of CARICOM

I thank you
Dr. Philomen Harrison
Project Director, Regional Statistics
CARICOM Secretariat

END

IMAGE: Dr. Philomen Harrison CARICOM

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