Prime Minister Mia Mottley on Friday appealed to private sector companies to deliver the critical information Government needs to accurately capture economic activity so it can better respond to the country’s needs.
At a news conference on Friday afternoon, Mottley lamented that some businesses have not been complying with requests from the Barbados Statistical Services Department to complete surveys related to production and performance.
“So when I see companies here who are in the business of literally production but are refusing to cooperate with the collection of data 2014, 2015, 2016, entities that are still very much in existence, 2018, then we have a problem.
“We need to measure what we are doing and how much we are earning in this economy. Our failure to measure all the activity both within the formal sector and even in terms of the informal sector means that we are limiting ourselves in terms of our possibilities. The more we can measure what we are doing, the more space I have to help Barbadians as Minister of Finance,” Mottley explained.
She noted that the data is used to calculate the Gross Domestic Product, a measurement that seeks to capture economic output, employment, and unemployment levels as well as the performance of various sectors among other things.
“Because at the end of the day, if we do not capture the size of this economy appropriately, it restricts the amount of fiscal space, the amount of room that Government will have to spend going forward. We really believe that there is more economic activity out there than the Government is capturing and we all know people who do their thing, but don’t pay taxes or do their thing but don’t come into the system,” the Prime Minister said.
Mottley stressed it was critical that all Barbadians fairly make their contribution as she pointed out that the provision of social services, infrastructure, and health care among others was a shared responsibility.
“If we don’t all pull together and help carry the burden and cost of public goods in this country, then it means a disproportionate burden will fall on a few. Whatever you are earning, you need to be able to put a little one side for the Government,” she stressed, saying the Government was bearing the cost of the provision of education, health, transportation, and other services.
“So that when the Government says to us ‘put a little something on the table for me, please, so that all of us can pay’. Those of you who are employees carry the disproportionate burden because it is taken out by your employer before you go anywhere, but the self-employed and the others in this society need also to recognise that if we all do it then many hands can make light work.”
Underscoring the need for Barbadians to have a healthy culture and relationship with data, the Prime Minister said Government will deliver on its commitment to move the Barbados Statistical Department from being a department of the Ministry of Finance to an independent statutory entity with its own advisory board.
“Because as you know, big data analytics is critical if you are going to manage anything going forward now. And I feel that the country deserves an independent entity that is not subject to the dictates of any ministry and we have promised it and we want to deliver it,” Mottley said.