Acting Prime Minister, the Hon. Peter Turnquest said the government is well on the way to delivering on the key priority made during the May 2017 Budget Communication to the strengthening of the Department of Statistics, giving that Department the autonomy and resources to improve the timeliness and reliability of statistics, which are critical for decision making. “That said let me say that the process to deliver this process is well on the way, but being carried out as a part of a more comprehensive strategy approach to the development of the National Statistical System inclusive of the Department of Statistics,” reported Acting Prime Minister Turnquest at the official launch of the ‘2020 Census of Population and Housing’ at the Department of Statistics, Monday, January 22, 2018. “We have just completed an independent and objective assessment of the National Statistical System and are about to commence the drafting of the National Statistical Strategy for the development of statistics.”
He said this will serve as the strategic plan that will provide the roadmap to establishing strategic governance, planning, and monitoring of The Bahamas National Statistical System, which again includes the Department of Statistics and other data producing agencies across government. “The key activity in this endeavour, which is a component of the Public Sector Finance Management and Performance Monitoring Review Project to strengthen the government’s capacity to allocate, manage and monitor public resources, is the writing of a new Statistics Bill to replace the 1973 Statistics Act, which is as you can well imagine, is out of date.”
The Acting PM said it is being proposed that this new bill will result in:
- the identification of the Department of Statistics as the lead agency for the collection of national statistics to address the uncoordinated and inefficient approach currently in use where the different government agencies are collecting data for their own purposes and there is no efficient information sharing.
- The Department of Statistics having both the level of prominence and autonomy required to command respect and instill confidence in the information it produces:
- The creation of the National Statistical System; and
- Greater access to Micro-Data that will allow other data users such as researchers, investors, teachers, students and international organizations, the opportunity to utilize and analyze for themselves, once the data is made anonymous, the vast amount of information gained from the census, other surveys and administrative data.
The Acting PM noted that some of the other key recommendations emanating from the National Statistical System assessment are:
- Under the new Statistics Act under Legislation, the establishment of a Bahamas National Statistical System Board that will be accountable to the Minister of Finance and to the head of Department of Statistics to provide strategic advice the help strengthen, coordinate and support the Bahamas National Statistical System priorities;
- The introduction by the Department of Statistics of a process for multi-year strategic planning, updated annually to support the on-going information needs of users with particular emphasis of those required to support The Bahamas National Development Plan and the National Strategy for the Development of Statistics initiative;
- The creation of inter-departmental working group forums for statistical subject matter experts including non-governmental sectors, to identify and prioritize Bahamas National Statistical System data needs;
- The development of partnerships with academic institutions including with The University of The Bahamas to support statistical capacity development and training; and
- The development of multi-year information and technology requirements and investment plans to support the access, production, and dissemination of official statistics.