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Work begins on agency to replace CSO
Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis has pledged to do what it takes to ensure a smooth transition from the Central Statistical Office (CSO) to the National Statistical Institute (NSI). She did so recently when she met with CSO staff at their new offices at 47 Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain.
The CSO’s building at 80 Independence Square was closed down due to health and safety issues in May 2013. As a result, data sets such as trade, labour and tourism were at least three years out of date. In recent months, with the acquisition of the new facilities at 47 Frederick Street, the CSO has started to overcome many of the challenges in the production of its data.
Cabinet has approved a committee to guide the restructuring and transition of the CSO to the NSI with an inaugural meeting to be held within two weeks’ time. It is expected that many more improvements will take place during 2016.
The Canadian Government, through its National Statistical Office (NSO); Statistics Canada (STATSCAN), has initiated the Project for the Regional Advancement of Statistics in the Caribbean (PRASC) which is geared towards enhancing the systems of national accounts in T&T as well as the rest of the Caribbean region. The objective is to improve business statistics by working on a robust business survey infrastructure, improving household statistics, including sex-disaggregated socio-economic indicators. The initial stages of this project has already begun with training currently taking place at the Trinidad Hilton Hotel. The CSO is expected to benefit from the PRASC over the next seven years.
The Planning Ministry is at an advanced stage with the modernisation of the Statistics Act and transformation of the CSO into the NSI. This new institute will be given great autonomy and the authority to coordinate the National Statistical System in accordance with best international standards.
Some of the most recent achievements of the CSO include improved production of statistical data, a fact recognised by the IMF. Within the last year there has been the almost complete removal of the backlog in Labour Force Statistics, up to date GDP time series, up to date Survey of Business Establishments, introduction of the rebased Retail Price Index (RPI), continued production of economic indices and trade statistics, production of agriculture statistics and the processing of vital statistics has restarted.
With the assistance of consultants provided by the IDB, the CSO redesigned and modernised its household sample frame. The agency assisted with the most recent Survey of Living Conditions in T&T and is working with PARIS21 in developing a National Strategy for Development of Statistics in T&T.
The CSO’s methods are regularly audited by organisations such as the IMF, CARTAC (Caribbean Technical Assistance Centre), ILO and Caricom among others to ensure the computation methods follow best practices. The methodologies used are all documented and made available to international organisations, researchers and data users.