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Immigration office, Statistical Institute sign data-sharing MOU

Saturday, May 03, 2014    

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THE Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) and Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will see both entities sharing data, under an inter-agency collaboration arrangement.

The MOU will enable easier monthly transfer of data from PICA to STATIN in relation to the annual count of all persons arriving in and departing the island by air or sea. This collaboration will also facilitate the delivery of back-dated reports, from January 2004 to November 2013, and onwards.

It is expected to assist STATIN in fulfilling its mandate of compiling and disseminating statistics, and creating an electronic database to which the public will have access.

STATIN's director general, Carol Coy, said the MOU will further assist the agency in developing its population estimates, which capture births, deaths, and migration.

"Information on migration has been very difficult to capture. So what STATIN (has been doing) is using the information from old immigration cards as a proxy measurement since 2006. However, the institute no longer has access to these cards, so this MOU will now see data being received electronically from PICA," Coy said.

In noting the MOU's importance, PICA's chief executive officer, Jennifer McDonald, said it was indicative of the benefits of inter-agency collaboration, and should result in improved public sector efficiency.

"Just consider what would be required and the manpower that you would need to count all of those immigration cards; we have about two million passengers arriving and another two million exiting (Jamaica) on an annual basis," she said.

Addressing concerns about citizens' safety and privacy, Coy indicated that under the Statistics Act, STATIN is prohibited from disclosing information that will readily identify persons.

"STATIN will only be publishing information on arrivals and departures and migration; we will not be publishing (personal) information on individuals," she assured.

Similar data sharing agreements were signed recently between the Mandeville office of the Registrar General's Department and Tax Administration Jamaica.

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