CARICOM Statistics Meetings
Some 50 statisticians representing 21 countries and international organisations are this week attending three different meetings in the Cayman Islands for the first time.
Held at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, the conference is comprised of the 42nd Meeting of the Standing Committee of Caribbean Statisticians (23-25 October), the 27th Regional Census Coordinating Committee (26 October) and the 10th Regional Statistical Research Seminar (27 October).
Deliberations focus on the meetings' theme "Improving the Lives of People, Advancing the Action Plan for Statistics in CARICOM."
Attendees are Directors/Chief Statisticians from all over the Caribbean, CARICOM Statistics Secretariat officials, and representatives from international and regional organisations including the World Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank.
At the opening of the conference, keynote speaker, Minister for Finance and Economic Development, Hon. Roy McTaggart gave a historical perspective of statistics in the Cayman Islands.
"Statistics was introduced to Cayman more than 200 years ago by way of the very first census in 1802 which counted 933 residents on Grand Cayman" and determined there were only transient groups of turtlers on the Sister Islands, the Minister said.
He noted, "Today, Cayman's statistical development remains very much connected with the rest of the region through the CARICOM Statistical Programme, other regional initiatives, support of the Caribbean Technical Assistance Centre ('CARTAC'), and more importantly through our complement of staff statisticians, statistical officers and advisers, who hail from right here in the Cayman Islands and across the Caribbean region including: Jamaica, St. Vincent and Grenadines, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Barbados and Guyana."
Debunking the notion that statistics are relevant only to statisticians, Minister McTaggart asserted, "Statistics help to tell a story of what is happening on the ground in our respective countries and how we compare to others in our region and internationally. Statistics allow ordinary citizens' access to information and help them to independently evaluate the policies and actions of the decision makers."
The Cayman Islands Government is continuing to improve the use and collection of statistics locally in order to make good governance more meaningful, Minister McTaggart added.
In her remarks, Project Director of CARICOM's Regional Statistics Programme, Dr. Philomen Harrison, thanked the Government, especially Minister McTaggart, and the Cayman Islands people for hosting the series of meetings.
"Given the challenges being faced by countries including those of CARICOM, this show of support for the development of statistics in CARICOM is immensely appreciated," Dr Harrison said.
She urged statisticians of the region to ensure their citizens understand the vital role that statistics play in their lives as well as to strive to produce purpose-fitting statistics and continue to promote their use.
"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," she added.
Welcoming the gathering, Economics and Statistics Office Director, Ms Maria Zingapan noted that the meetings enable the Cayman Islands to help in the statistical development of the region including through two key initiatives for the future: the Regional Strategy for the Development of Statistics and the Action Plan for Statistics in the Caribbean.
"These are initiatives that we believe, if embraced, will positively impact the long-term development of regional statistics, and more so, the responsiveness of official statistics to ever increasing demands for quality information," she commented.
She especially welcomed attendees from the region whose countries were recovering in varying degrees from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. These included Antigua and Barbuda, Turks and Caicos, Bahamas, and St. Kitts and Nevis. "Our colleagues and dear friends from the hardest hit jurisdictions of Anguilla, British Virgin Islands and Dominica - will be greatly missed," she added.
Senior Assistant Financial Secretary, Mr. Michael Nixon, who also emceed and gave the vote of thanks, emphasised the importance of statistics in shaping and defining public policy as well as specific government actions for the management and functioning of their societies and economies.
Living in a digital age where data is available at the click of a button increasingly demands that countries produce timely and accurate statistics, he noted. "Governments are under increasing pressure from their citizens and international development partners to clearly demonstrate that their decisions are evidenced based and one of the critical components to achieving this is to have a robust statistical programme," he added.
A welcoming video presentation titled "This is Cayman in Statistics", produced by Government Information Services for ESO; a vocal dedication to statisticians by a delegate from Grenada, Mr. Halim Brizan singing "Impossible Dream", and a delightful cultural presentation about the Cayman Islands for statisticians by well-known local performer, Mr. Matthew Brown, were some other highlights of the opening programme.
Also, providing soothing musical entertainment were Mr. Yoan Tamayo Garcia on the violin, pre-ceremony, and Mr. Junior Hines on the saxophone, post- ceremony.
Additionally, Miss Natalia McCoy led the singing of the National Anthem, Mrs. Karen Edie Turner the National Song and Rev. Donovan Myers led the gathering in prayer.
For further information contact: Bina Mani