NALC data to bring Cayman up to date

Statistical data coming out of the National Assessment of Living Conditions will serve as a baseline to update the consumer price index here in Cayman, which is 15 years out of date.

This is what attendees at 2007’s first Chamber of Commerce Luncheon at the Wharf Restaurant heard Thursday.

Minister of Health and Human Services Anthony Eden addressed the luncheon explaining what the NALC will mean for Cayman.

The NALC is the single most important initiative relative to psycho-social infrastructure ever undertaken in the Cayman Islands, he said.

The NALC is a cross-ministerial, nine-month landmark study that aims to assess the broad socio-economic landmark of the Cayman Islands and set out actions for improvement.

The Ministry’s Chief Officer Diane Montoya confirmed that the results will be made readily available to the public.

Beyond the consumer price index there will be macroeconomic data that will be generated from the survey, such as gaining a better picture of household consumption, a variety of goods and services, and statistical data that can allow the Cayman Islands to partly catch up with regional standards, said Director Economics & Statistics Office Maria Zingapan.

Ms Montoya explained that the training of 51 enumerators for the survey has just been completed. Some of those are experienced people who have previously worked with the Economics & Statistics office, but some are new. These people can now be drawn on not only for this survey, but for the census of population and housing (in 1999) but for other surveys and assessments.

Minister Eden said the commercial sector will find the data from the assessment useful. ‘It may very well stimulate new business ideas that you in the commercial sector can implement effectively, because you now have sound data.’

Reliable statistics

Chamber President Angelyn Hernandez pointed to the need for the country as a whole to produce and release timely and relevant statistics that meet international standards. ‘Without reliable statistics, decisions are made in a vacuum. I find this troubling and potentially harmful for the future of our economy. Greater resources and attention must be given to the development of integrated systems in Government to collect and analyze statistical trends in our community.’

The Minister noted that the results of the study will indeed serve as a benchmark of Cayman’s socio-economic situation.

‘Internally, we will know better how to distribute limited resources, when necessary, to improve the quality of life of all our residents, as part of a comprehensive social development plan for the Cayman Islands.

‘Externally, the results of this study may be used to present a truer picture of the Cayman Islands’ socio-economic condition, including per capita income.’

The results of the study will be applied across government and statutory entities, and based on analysis is of the data, policy recommendations will be made, said the Minister

The study will also find critical indicators such as the poverty line.

‘However, the study will come at the poverty issue from a wider and more complex perspective than that of determining basic needs for food, clothes and shelter. Overall, what the study will look at is the hopes and fears of the people and assessing both their perceptions and what is actually preventing them from achieving their goals,’ the Minister said.

He added, ‘We want to find the possibilities for their lives, and what will enable them to stand on their feet, motivate and empower them to take their rightful places in society.’

The first phase of the institutional review has taken place, and government departments, voluntary and statutory organisations, in addition to the business sector, were surveyed.

Starting this month and continuing to April qualitative date from real life experiences will be gathered through community meetings and focus groups in all districts. Randomly selected households will also be visited, with occupants encouraged to keep a diary about their spending patterns.

The Minister thanked Chamber CEO Wil Pineau for spearheading a sponsorship project to assist in defraying some of the costs of the project. To date, offsetting NALC’s costs, Caribbean Utilities has given $4,000 and Royal Bank of Canada has given $2,000.