The Gambia Government through the Statistics Department is working towards the development of a New National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDS). The development of the new strategy is currently underway at a three day workshop which opened yesterday at the Paradise Suites Hotel organised by the Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBoS).
In his opening remarks, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Abdou Kolley said the development of NSDS calls for concerted effort by all stakeholders in the production and use of quality statistics. "As such, we have converted all major stakeholder institutions within government, the non-state organisations and partners to diagnose our statistics system through the identification of constraints and development of plans and programs as well as policies for the government and use of responsive quality statistics", he said.
The Finance and Economic Affairs Minister noted that the forum should also be used to discuss coordination within the national statistics system as well as its interface within the planning functions of government. The collective approach to the development of their statistics will ensure that they attain their statistical vision, he said. "This vision is premised on the core values of relevance, accuracy, timeliness, cost effectiveness and wide and effective dissemination of the statistics produced, and should help guide your deliberations. It is precisely the need to meet these core values that led to the establishment of GBoS through the Statistics Act of 2005 to be the lead agency in The National Statistics Systems responsible for coordination of statistical programs, standardization of concepts and definition among others."
Minister Kolley urged participants to take the opportunity that the forum offers to ensure that their stakeholder concerns are tabled and a way forward collectively drawn for the production and usage of quality statistics, noting that quality statistics are needed in the development, monitoring and evaluation of government programs.
The Finance Minister stressed that credibility, relevance, integrity, accuracy, accessibility and timeliness of statistics as well as the reputation and professionalism of the agencies producing the statistics are important for any respected national statistics systems.
Minister Kolley also told participants to examine the Bureau's current constraints and what needs to be done to foster production and use of quality statistics. He also urged them to scrutinize the Statistics Act and come up with recommendations where necessary to make it more responsive to the present statistical needs of the country.
Speaking earlier, the Senior Regional Adviser ECA, Awa Thiongane said the ultimate goal of data production is by meeting user needs which is to produce high statistics in timely and cost effective manner. She said this workshop will give them the opportunity to be informed on the implementation of the first Strategic Plan for the development of statistics (SPDS) of the Gambia. She added that it will also help to discuss the challenges the Gambia's Statistics System is still facing in order to take them into account in the second SPDS.
Madam Thiongane disclosed that a previous joint mission of the UNECA and the Secretariat of the Partnership In Statistics in the 21st Century (PARIS21) underscored the effort made by government and the Technical and Financial Partners (TFPs) allowing important reforms at institutional level and undertaking of several surveys amongst others. She however said the mission also noted the lack of statisticians in statistical units of line ministries, difficulties in accessing administrative records and delays in surveys undertaken amongst others.
For his part, the Chairman of the National Statistics Council, Sakou Mboge stressed the importance of statistical information, adding that they are needed in order to plan for the future based on past information especially in areas such as health, finance, tourism, population and housing census amongst others.
The Statistician General of GBoS, Nyakassi M.B. Sanyang, in his welcoming remarks, said the key responsibility of GBoS as a coordinating agency of National Statistics System is to assess user satisfaction and needs in statistics. The different types of users, he said, such as politicians, government agencies, public etc need disparate statistics for various purposes and will vary in their capacity and use of statistics.