September 20, 2020

The Editor Speaks: Fines, no government approval necessary, give us the stats

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Colin Wilson2webGovernments love statistics. Every one of their departments loves statistics. Politicians love statistics.

Valentines Day is just around the corner and statisticians should receive hundreds of cards, flowers, chocolates, etc.

They are so loved.

Large corporations love statistics.

Journalists quote them all the time. I even quote them.

Personally, however, I loathe statistics. I am not alone.

Mark Twain coined a phrase (and attributed it to British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli) “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”

“Researchers and analysts estimate that such and so many of this or that will increase or decrease by some percentage by sometime in the near or far future.”

When I was a practicing Quantity Surveyor one easily learned how to use statistics to your advantage. You didn’t fudge them, you didn’t change them, you just used the ones to help your estimate.

All estimates are really guesses based on your experience, your expert knowledge and statistics.

You see, statistics tend to lend credibility to anything you do because that’s what they are designed for.

Research statistics are particularly designed to help the large corporations who are paying for them to help their interests.

The problem with statistics is the source they come from, or don’t come from.

You see our government is not happy with what they are receiving, or not receiving.

They are not receiving the statistics from you and me. They want them and we are not providing them. Not many of us, anyway. And some they do receive are suspect. They believe the information that has been given is incorrect. It doesn’t add up.

The government has an answer.

They are proposing amendments to the Statistics Law that threaten penalties or prison sentences on you and me, and intrusively obstructs business and personal affairs!

They are also giving almost total authority that will require no prior government approval to the head of the Economics and Statistics Office (ESO).

If these amendments go ahead they will allow the ESO DIRECTOR to collect statistics whenever HE decides that will also give HIM the authority to enter any residential or business premises; HE will be able to implement fines for new offenses created by the amended law for all those who do not submit the information HE requires in the time frame HE stipulates; HE will also be able to implement fines to all those who supply false information (how is that proved?); the penalties for these offenses HE implements are $10,000 fine, three years’ imprisonment, or both; and finally will allow the ESO to implement voluntary surveys to Cayman’s exempted companies and trusts.

I do not understand where the ‘voluntary’ bit comes in. In fact I don’t understand it at all.

In fact I cannot understand the purpose of any of it or the necessity of it.

Instead of reducing government and its powers with all the expense that goes along with it is increasing it.

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development are seeking written comments on the changes and you have until Feb. 1st to make them known.

Here is mine.

No fines. Government must have approval before the ESO send out requests for any statistics. No additional powers to the ESO director.

In other words a big NO to all of the proposed amendments.

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