Tue | Sep 19, 2017

... Lack of $$$$ slows surveys - Agency laments delay in government funding for major projects

Published:Sunday | July 23, 2017 | 7:00 AM
Sonia Jackson, former director general of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, points to the report chart at the launch of the Population and Housing Census 2011.

The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) plans to lobby the Government for constant funding to carry out major programmes in an effort to prevent a reoccurrence of the delay in the undertaking of the household expenditure survey (HES) which is now under way.

STATIN started the HES this year but that was two years later than it should have started.

The delay was due to the lack of government funding, and director general of STATIN, Carol Coy, says it is not unusual for the entity to not have the money to do major projects that are done infrequently.

International best practice prescribes that an HES be conducted every five years but STATIN conducts one every 10 years. The previous one was done in 2005, meaning the one now being done should have been completed in 2015.

"Ideally, we say at STATIN, given cost, we would like to do the household expenditure survey every 10 years," Coy told The Sunday Gleaner.

"Because of cost constraints with the government, and we are fully funded from the budget, we are running behind that schedule. This is the issue that STATIN faces. There are certain programmes that are part of our work, but are not recurrent every year and so we have to make special effort and increase advocacy," added Coy.

 

Survey purposes

 

The HES, which started in February and will run until January of next year, is fundamental in the collecting of data for the consumer price index, which is used as a basis for the inflation rate, among other things.

Approximately 12,500 households will be targeted over the 12 months, with the project budgeted to cost $200 million

The Jamaican Government allocated $93 million for the project in the 2017-18 budget while the rest is covered in the 2018-19 expenditures.

The next major programme the STATIN will be undertaking is the population and housing census which is due in 2021, and Coy anticipates similar funding issues.

"It is going to be the same issue of having the government fund that," said Coy. "So those are some of the problem areas that we face when you do not have these occurring every year. They occur at intervals but are actually still a part of our regular work programme.

"We have started the planning (for the population and housing census) and we are building a business case that we will be presenting to the government because even though data collection will be in 2021, preparations have to start from now moving towards that."

The population and housing census is conducted every 10 years to determine not only the size of the population but also the characteristics of Jamaicans.

The census captures important details, such as how many persons own their house as opposed to paying rent, technology used, mode of transportation, education, size of households, access to electricity and running water, among other things.

"It (census) is a major undertaking. What it means is that for us at the STATIN we have to be proactive and make our parent ministry aware of the census, so we are going to prepare a document for them from this year so the government can identify where the funding will come from," said Coy.

ryon.jones@gleanerjm.com