Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 9th 2015 Contents JULY 9 • 2015 www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COVER STORY | BG5
we need to do to look at the system, assess
the system and how we could collaborate with
all the stakeholders and come up with a vision
of where we want to go and create the roadmap
to get there."
She said the roadmap to establish a new
national statistical system includes not only
the CSO but other stakeholder bodies like the
universities and government ministries.
"We have a draft timetable and we are hop-
ing that by the end of 2015 into 2016 we should
be able to be finished the process. Then we
are going to come up with a budget and a
five-year plan. We are going to cost each activ-
ity and things like that. The Business Guardian,
as an example, is one of the many stakeholders
that want to share information and we have
to collaborate with. The entire business com-
munity can look forward to more timely infor-
mation," she said.
She said the CSO would just be one part
of the NSS.
"We are not the only ones who produce
statistics. Other organisations, trade bodies,
private sector and government bodies would
also be involved. So you have the producers
of statistics and you also have the users which
could be anybody from the media to academia
Chadee said the plan is to improve the entire
"This would help the production of statistics
and usage of system," he said.
Mahabir-Dass and Chadee spoke with the
Business Guardian two Wednesdays ago at
the presentation of the National Strategy for
the Development of Statistics at the Hilton
Trinidad Hotel and Conference Centre, Port-
The IMF, in its 2014 Article IV Consultation
staff report press release, said that growing
statistical shortcomings have rendered the
conduct of surveillance ever harder in T&T
and this must be addressed. (See below)
In 2013, because of the poor conditions at
the CSO building on Independence Square,
they have moved to Park Street, Port-of-Spain.
In May, Tewarie at a media conference at
the Radisson Hotel in Port-of-Spain, said the
CSO will soon be moving into a newly con-
structed building on Frederick Street, Port-
of-Spain, and other aspects of its restructuring
will be rolled out in the coming months.
Statistics and Investors
Joanne Deoraj, deputy Permanent Secretary
of the Ministry of Planning, speaking at the
CSO launch, said a national statistics strategy
is important for any country s development.
"It is the basis for a country to learn the
reliable statistical systems that produce data
to design and monitor national development
policies and programmes. Equally important
is the development of a national strategy to
connect data to meet our reporting obligations
as a nation state to regional and international
agencies. The aim of developing such a strategy
is to improve our statistics on an ongoing basis
and to strengthen national statistical capac-
She also said she wants all the stakeholders
to use and understand the data in the new
national statistical system.
She said, in 2014, the Government estab-
lished a management transition team to review
all the reports of Statistics Sweden.
"I am happy to report that the work of that
team came to an end on Tuesday. We have
worked very hard and we have been advised
that Cabinet has accepted all the recommen-
dations of the team as it relates to developing
the national statistical office, in relation to
revised legislation, organisation for infrastruc-
ture and our relationship with users and sup-
pliers," she said.
She said the work going on with PARIS 21
will be closely aligned to the work of the tran-
sition team for the implementation of all the
recommendation for the CSO in the next 18
"I am hoping in the next 18 months we will
have a brand new, if not better recognised
CSO for T&T, the region and global commu-
She added that good statistics is the cor-
nerstone for good governance and to manage
"Good statistics are necessary to ensure
public and private efficient working, for the
society and the environment. When we talk
about good statistics we are talking about
timely, accurate and detailed statistics that
can enable the effective management of T&T s
macro-economic policy, monitoring and fiscal
She said potential investors need data and
statistics to know if and when to invest.
"In terms of macro-economic policy, we
know that investors are looking at with great
interest for opportunities in our capital-inten-
sive industries such as petrochemicals and
other manufacturing ventures and, impor-
tantly, our ability to diversify our economy.
To achieve a balanced economy, diversification
policies are needed to be effective and to be
effective they must identify areas where there
is value and value added industries. Good
statistics can identify where economic oppor-
tunities lie," she said.
She said they want to build not only the
quantity of statistics but the quality of sta-
"The quality of the statistics really give
T&T the standards that it needs to be com-
parable to other countries, to give us the
impartiality and scientific principles of data
collection that stand up to the United Nations
system and other systems across the world,"
In its 2014 Article IV staff report on the T&T economy,
the IMF noted that "critically," there had been little
concrete progress in improving the statistical base.
According to the IMF: "The Central Statistical Office (CSO)
has yet to move into suitable quarters and remains woefully
under-staffed and under-resourced. The production of critical
data (including GDP, trade, and labor, as well as tourism sta-
tistics) continues to fall further behind, grinding to a halt in
critical areas and rendering the conduct of surveillance ever
Since the publication of the IMF report, the CSO has moved
Elsewhere in the report, the IMF states: "Critically, the
lack of reliable and timely data is an overarching problem
that hampers public and private decision-making. Since the
last Article IV discussions, there has been little concrete
progress in implementing lasting reforms to remedy data
"The CSO still has no permanent quarters after its building
was condemned last year and it remains starved of resources,
leading statistics production to seriously lag in critical areas.
Data shortcomings now severely constrain staff s ability to
conduct economic surveillance.
"Moreover, aside from the plan to help alleviate resource
shortages on a temporary basis, there are no concrete signs
of implementing an action plan to resolve the problems at
the statistical agency, and there is therefore a critical and
urgent need to provide the CSO the resources needed to fulfill
In a separate box in the document under the rubric, "Data
issues," the fund said: "Data shortcomings have reached critical
mass and now severely constrain staff s ability to conduct
The government data collection agency, the Central Statistical
Office (CSO), temporarily ceased operations in mid-2013 and
now operates under extreme resource constraints, leading to
very long lags for GDP, trade and labour data.
Official trade data are available up to February 2012, labour
market data up to March 2013, while the GDP data for 2012
is still only provisional.
There are also significant gaps in tourism statistics, while
expenditure-side and quarterly GDP estimates are not compiled.
The central bank s efforts to fill data gaps, although laudable,
have resulted in estimates that are flawed due to methodological
The government is aware of these long-standing problems
and has received an aggressive plan from Statistics Sweden
to modernise the CSO.
The report prioritises:
• connecting the agency better with data suppliers and
• improving IT systems; and
• enhancing human resources.
The ultimate aim would be legislation to place the CSO on
an independent footing by the end of 2014.
However, there has been little concrete progress imple-
menting reforms. CSO staff are still in temporary locations
and permanent quarters are unlikely in the next 12-18 months.
The CSO s self-proclaimed goal to bring a wide range of sta-
tistics rapidly up-to-date once they move into new quarters
is laudable, but severe resource shortcomings cast serious
doubt on its achievability.
A plan to temporarily alleviate resource shortages entails
the Central Bank recruiting 15 staff and assigning them to
the CSO for one year. The aim is to clear backlogs of trade
and labour market data. Meanwhile, the CSO has committed
additional resources ($2 million) for the same purpose, and
is collaborating with the Customs Department to resolve
trade data issues.
The IMF also noted that the CSO in 2014 had 350 staff,
and due to inadequate office "accommodation, some staff
work from home, rotate office spaces, or do not work at all."
The IMF report concluded:
"In the absence of concrete progress in lasting reforms to
remedy data shortcomings, data lags are growing, rendering
surveillance ever harder. Staff urged the authorities to take
quick action to provide the CSO with the resources needed
to begin to rebuild its capacity."
Creating a national
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