OPENING REMARKS BY DR. PHILOMEN HARRISON, PROJECT DIRECTORS, REGIONAL
STATISTICS, CARICOM SECRETARIAT
AT THE THIRTY-NINTH MEETING OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE OF CARIBBEAN
STATISTICIANS, TWENTY FOURTH MEETING OF THE REGIONAL CENSUS COORDINATING
COMMITTEE AND THE SEVENTH REGIONAL STATISTICAL RESEARCH SEMINAR
GEORGETOWN, GUYANA-OCTOBER 27 2014
It is indeed a pleasure for me to give these Opening Remarks at the Thirty-
Ninth Meeting of the Standing Committee of Caribbean Statisticians, the
Twenty-Fourth Meeting of the Regional Census Coordinating Committee and the Seventh Regional Statistical Research Seminar which are being hosted by the Member State of Guyana. The over-riding objectives for the establishment of the SCCS in 1974 were to cultivate an awareness and recognition of the importance of statistics in the Community; to widen the scope and coverage of statistical data collection; and to improve the quality, comparability and timeliness of the statistics produced.
Evidently the scope and coverage of statistical data have been expanded since the early period of the SCCS including areas such as Statistics on
Trade in Services, the gender dimension of Social statistics and
Environment Statistics. The SCCS has also increasingly focused on a range of what can be termed “non-traditional” statistical elements including: the development of a common Regional Statistical Work Programme; a
Resolution on Statistical Development; Statistical Advocacy including the
First High Level Advocacy Forum on Statistics in 2009; the second forum this year in May in Grenada and the commemoration of Caribbean
Statistics Day from 2009 to the present.
There are initiatives in the areas of National Strategies for the Development of Statistics; A Model Statistics Bill; an SCCS Position on Access to Micro data, the Code of Good Statistical Practices and more recently deliberations on S tatisticians as “data scientists and the development of
Centres of Excellence in statistics to sustain efforts and capacity-building -
Initiatives that perhaps 40 years ago did not inform the agenda of an SCCS meeting, let alone the operation of a vibrant subsidiary Group, the
CARICOM Advisory Group on Statistics (AGS).
The Census meetings are now being held annually and Resarch Seminars have been added to the annual meetings primarily to promote the use of statistics. The SCCS and AGS actively assist in developing and guiding the executing and monitoring of projects funded by International Development partners such as the European Union, and the Inter-American
Development Bank and have had inputs into projects that are proposed.
Of the many issues facing statistics and statisticians whether here in the
Region or world over the following three issues can be highlighted:
Firstly, the Adequacy of Resources: The recognition of the importance of statistics is a necessary condition for its improvement but not sufficient- it is important that there is adequate investment in statistics to fuel the data revolution for its strengthening, advancement and continued relevance and the core of this investment ought to come from governments.
Secondly, the Principles of Independence and Confidentiality: the independence of statistics must be respected and protected, it may be the case in the future that statistics may be the only objective verifiable evidence existing and fellow statisticians and stakeholders are urged to
continue to adhere to this principle and in similar vein the principle of confidentiality of individual level information;
Finally, The Development of the Profession : as stated at the Second
High Level Advocacy Forum the initiative of the SCCS and the AGS on enabling the establishment of the Caribbean Association of Professional
Statisticians (CAPS) must be supported since this can among other outcomes, serve to enable a better understanding of the profession, and enthuse greater recognition of its worth in impacting the lives and empowering the peoples of the Region.
I would like to urge fellow Directors of Statistics/Chief Statisticians to continue to be passionate about their work while being vigilant. There is a lot more to be accomplished by statisticians in serving country and
I close by commending the Government and people of Guyana and in particular the Honourable Minister responsible for Statistics and the Chief
Statistician and his staff of the Guyana Bureau of Statistics for hosting this year’s meetings and for the warmth and courtesies that have been extended to the delegates to this point. A special word of appreciation to
Mr. Benjamin for all the professional advice given to me and related information that he has shared with me- he has always been “a phone call away”.
I must express gratitude to our regional and international partners that continue to have faith in us in supporting the development of statistics and last but not least the staff of the Regional statistics programme for their unstinting support they have provided to me. Long live the SCCS!
I thank you