Thursday, April 18, 2024

EDITORIAL: Late census results serious

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Finally!
This island’s 2010 Population and Housing Census results are out. It was news many people across the island would have been awaiting – not for weeks or months, but years.
The information, even though late, is still vital. And, while it has come almost as an anticlimax, the question to be answered is: Honestly, why did these results take so long before they could be made public?
The acting director of the Barbados Statistical Services, Aubrey Browne, has given an explanation with much of the blame being placed on inadequate staff to carry out the process.
The truth is that this excuse only exposes significant weaknesses in the system, since a national census is simply too critical to a nation.
In case we forget, this process, undertaken every ten years, in years ending with a zero, impacts all levels of society. It is not merely about figures.
The exercise is of national significance since it is at the core of our planning process.
The data from this survey allows all levels of Government and the private sector to plan for the future.
It captures a true picture of the society, from how the population has grown and the ethnic make-up to the religious practices, among a myriad of other things. Given its importance, we cannot let slip any detail, but the information must also be timely as well.
The tardiness in making public this information sounds a warning to the entire country.
We have to be careful that we have not set a bad precedent having delivered the results of this census so late after completion of the collection and collation of the statistics.
Indeed, failure to adhere to the census timelines points to issues within our society in planning and executing a major project.
Even though we have successfully undertaken previous censuses, the impression resulting from this latest exercise is a negative one. An outsider may reasonably ask if we do not recognize the importance of the exercise and whether we regard it simply as one which, because of tradition, we must undertake.
We must get our priorities right since this particular process must be approached and undertaken with a certain amount of rigidity. The correct budgeting must be done in advance and all the necessary plans drawn up so that it can all be carried out with precision and certainty so as not to undermine its credibility. Simply stated, the resources must be made available: human, finance and technological.
The technocrats cannot escape total blame on this occasion; neither can the political directorate.
They should have all known in advance what was required to do the job. The timely delivery of the results of a national census cannot be a discretionary matter.

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