Friday 27 November, 2020

UWI economist: More data needed for post-COVID-19 policy-making

University of the West Indies (UWI) economist and senior lecturer, Dr Roger Hosein, is calling for more support for the Central Statistical Office (CSO) and movement toward the creation of the National Statistical Institute in order to bring stronger data-driven analyses for the way forward, post-COVID-19.

Dr Hosein told Loop News that allowing for more autonomy for data collection and analyses will assist in providing more informed decisions on managing the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He is also calling for action to be taken regarding the creation of the National Statistical Insititute of Trinidad and Tobago (NSITT).

“I think the CSO is a vital institution in the Trinidad and Tobago economy and plays a critical role in providing data to policy-makers. I think however it has been starved of resources in recent times and as a result it operates with a time lag so that, for example, data from the Continuous Sampling Survey of the Population (CSSP), to my knowledge is only available up to 2016, by administrative area and by type of worker."

"This would make it difficult for decision-makers to make informed comments and informed interventions, simply because the market since then would have changed, not only because of COVID-19 but because of the depression that the economy has found itself in.”

Dr Hosein said data regarding the labour market, in particular, is needed: “Some of the areas where I think more data is needed is in terms of the labour market in particular. For example, the review of the economy 2019 provides data in revision four format. The CSSP data does not have the same format as it stands, therefore it’s difficult to calculate output per worker."

“Without output per worker data, it is challenging for policy makers to know where to allocate scarce resources in terms of which sector offers the highest return from a productivity perspective."

He said it would also be useful to obtain data about the labour market within the private sector.

"Also, we would like to know the number of workers in the private sector as compared to the state sector – this type of data, because it is now outdated, is not easily available enywhere else and therefore it compromises the capacity of policymakers to make sound decisions.”

Dr Hosein said that evidence-based policy-making is critical for the way forward. 

“Moving forward, the agenda has to be cleared for the CSO to be given more autonomy. The NSITT Bill has to be brought to Parliament and the National Statistical Institute has to be made into a reality."

“Without this Institute and greater autonomy for data collection and dissemination, the whole process would remain in a skewed position. I strongly urge the policy makers to make the National Statistical Institute a reality.”

Trinidad and Tobago's Real GDP Growth is forecasted to be -4.54 percent in 2020 as reported by International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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