After a near five-year delay, a $12.5 million modernization programme of the Barbados Statistical Service (BSS) is expected to be completed early next year.
Still left to be done as part of a new structure at the data collection and analysis agency is the appointment of what is believed to be a senior official to a post which Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler did not identify when he spoke this morning at the opening of the Project Exit workshop for the modernization of the BSS at Baobab Tower.
However, the minister revealed that the position had already been approved by the Ministry of the Civil Service, but could not be filled by the July 1, 2016 deadline, leading the BSS to seek an extension.
“This was granted until March 31, 2017. In the interim ongoing discussions will be held with the Personnel Administration Division to complete that transition process,” Sinckler said.
The modernization programme, which started some eight years ago and is supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), is focused on strengthening of the capacity of the BSS to gather, process and publish high standard of economic and social statistics in order to build a better database of information to assess and boost the local economy.
Five components of the modernization plan have already been completed. They include human resource development; implementation of a technical infrastructure and public outreach programme; the development of a statistics network among Government departments; enhanced statistics products; and implementation of a new structure for the statistical department.
The plan will be supported by a new Statistics Act, which, according to Sinckler, is set to go to Parliament next year.
He said the draft was with the Chief Parliamentary Council who is responsible within the attorney generals office for the preparation of legislation, following comments from interested parties.
“. . . and after tense review it will be finalized very shortly, and hopefully in the New Year we should be able to go to Parliament and have that Statistics Act put in place,” Sinckler told the stakeholders who met to determine what aspects of the objectives had been achieved, identify lessons learnt and the way forward for the organization.
BSS Director Aubrey Browne said the upgrade was to have been completed around 2012, but had to be extended several times.
“Unfortunately it took about three years to procure the main consultancy for the project to work on all six of its components. By the time these consultants completed their recommendation on the project components the four years had past and it was necessary to extend the life of the loan agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank,” Browne said.
The IDB provided funding to the tune of $10 million, while Government contributed $2.5 million.