A Government minister says the same private sector which accuses Government of not producing timely statistics comprises the very ones not cooperating with the state’s Statistical Department’s request for data.
Marsha Caddle, Minister of Economic Affairs and Investment, made the comments as she contributed to debate yesterday on the Central Bank of Barbados Bill 2020 which seeks to undertake significant reform at the bank.
Caddle, the Member of Parliament for St Michael South Central, told the House it was important that data presented as official statistics were reliable and accurate. She said the Barbados Statistical Service, which provides data on employment numbers and consumer price shifts, for example, relied on data being supplied by the private sector in a timely fashion.
In this regard, the minister said the administration was working on a new Statistical Act that will address how statistics, among other things, were analysed, as well as govern the collection of a wider range of data on matters such as public transportation, service times at various departments, in addition to the traditional employment figures and price movements.
According to Caddle, the kind of data used, its accuracy and timeliness, could impact on economic planning decisions.
Addressing components of the new Central Bank of Barbados Bill 2020, Caddle said the reformations included new guidelines for the notification of major drops in the island’s foreign reserves and recommendations from the bank to forestall and remedy the situation.
In addition, she queried what might have occurred in Barbados had the COVID-19 pandemic hit when Barbados’ foreign reserves had hit alarmingly low levels under the last administration. “We would have been in real trouble,” she suggested.
She said it was important that the Central Bank of Barbados be in a position to take action to manage the island’s foreign reserves.
Meanwhile, the St Michael South Central MP accused Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley of setting up straw men to knock down. Citing Section 63 of the proposed legislation, Caddle said there must be mechanisms for the Minister of Finance to respond to policy prescriptions if it is believed that advice from the Central Bank was not in the best interest of the country.