Information used to calculate consumer price index
Starting in January, researchers from the government’s Economic and Statistics Office will spread out around Cayman to ask 1,400 households to track every expense and save each receipt for two weeks for a new household budget survey.
The survey, which updates the last household budget data from 2007, is used to calculate the consumer price index and inflation rate for the Cayman Islands. The index and inflation rate, in turn, are used across government and the private sector to set salary raises, pension contributions, electricity rates and anything else that takes cost of living into consideration.
All information collected will be kept confidential, said Marco Archer, minister of Finance and Economic Development.
Mr. Archer said it is important that everyone participate in order to get as accurate a picture as possible of daily expenses for households.
“Your responses will be for your own good and the community at large,” he said.
By tracking how much people spend on a daily basis on everything from a gallon of milk to a new car, the survey will give the most complete picture of prices and how people spend their money in Cayman.
Maria Zingapan, director of the ESO, said participating in the survey is required by law. “You can refuse,” she said, “but we would have to take note and there is some legal liability.”
The way the survey will work, Ms. Zingapan explained, is that her office will randomly select 1,400 households across Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands, with a goal of surveying 120 a month. Researchers will ask household members to track all of their expenses in a log book and save all of their receipts for two weeks. Researchers will also ask a series of questions, which should take 30 to 45 minutes to complete.
After the two weeks, researchers will pick up the log book and receipts and enter the confidential data into the system. All expenses will be coded and, by the middle of 2016, the ESO hopes to produce the initial report on household expenditures.
Jewel Evans Lindsey, managing director of the Public Sector Pension Board, said the updated data will help make sure retirees will have enough pension income. The survey, she said, will help “not only to assist in ensuring that pension benefits are protected from inflation, but also to help ensure that the cost of living in the Cayman Islands can be accurately calculated and used to inform debate on various key social matters.”
The last household budget survey before 2007 was in 1992. Many countries update their household budget data every five years; some even update it continuously, according to Mr. Archer.
“This survey is at least three years overdue,” he said.