Statistics Law changes increase penalties, data collection

Amendments to the Statistics Law, approved Monday by the Legislative Assembly, increase the penalties for people who do not fill out required surveys, and expands the voluntary business surveys to include trusts and companies in the special economic zone.

The amendments to the Statistics Law solidify the section that states the individual data collected is protected and not subject to the Freedom of Information Law.

The changes increase penalties for employees of the Economics and Statistics Office who breach confidentiality rules. The new law also creates a structure for the Economics and Statistics Office to charge private companies and government authorities for custom data reports that fall outside of the office’s standard reporting.

The statistics office is in charge of collecting economic and demographic data from around the country. The office conducts surveys of people and businesses to track how the islands change over time and prepares regular reports on employment, the economic health of the country and others.

Finance Minister Marco Archer, presenting the bill to his colleagues in the Legislative Assembly, said, “The ESO receives a number of requests from authorities and private companies.” Those requests, he said, take time, and these amendments will allow the Economics and Statistics Office to set a rate structure and collect revenue for developing custom reports.

The expanded reporting, Mr. Archer said, hopes to capture more information from trusts and exempted companies, such as those at Cayman Enterprise City, to include in the Economics and Statistics Office’s economic reports. Participation for trusts and other companies now included in the law will be voluntary, but Mr. Archer said it will help to get a more complete picture of the gross national product and other important economic indicators.

Legislators voted to approve the Statistics Bill amendments on the second reading Monday evening. The bill will still need a third reading, but that tends to be a formal last step once the debate on the changes is complete.

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