THE island's primary producer of data, the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (Statin), is lamenting the high staff turnover rate of its highly trained members who are being wooed by private sector entities who pay up to twice the salary offered by the Government.
Statin's Director General Carol Coy told this week's Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange, at the newspaper's headquarters in Kingston, that the turnover at the entity is cause for concern, noting that a significant portion of those who leave do so because of the remuneration.
"When I lose four information technology [experts] to one private organisation in one month... you lose four programmers in one month and they are going for twice the salary," Coy said.
She said Statin, whose structure is being reviewed, has been making the case for better salaries to the Ministry of Finance.
"What we are hoping is that the ministry will look favourably on the organisation itself. To attract persons at a certain level is one of the difficulties in the public sector, and when you have a unique organisation like Statin, taking a university graduate it takes about two to three years to train that person to do GDP (gross domestic product). Once that person leaves I can't take back somebody who [just graduated]; you have to train them," Coy pointed out.
"A critical area is sampling. We have to send them to university abroad to be trained because the training you get on sampling coming out of university here cannot work with a Statin survey. It doesn't work. That is the dilemma facing an organisation like Statin," she added.
Deputy Director General Leesha Delatie-Budair, speaking further to the issue, said the loss to the entity was significant not just in terms of manpower but also the investment that would have been made in individuals.
"The reality is, you have to make a statistician, it is difficult. Statin invests a lot in the training of our statisticians because our work is unique in the country in that there is no other like Statin so we tend to invest a lot in training. Our staff are well trained, very exposed; we participate in the global discussions around consultations around statistical methodologies and development in the field, so we are quite highly rated," she pointed out.
Statin, an agency of the finance ministry, produces a wide range of statistics on the economy through products such as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) where it collects data about prices monthly from a wide range of establishments. It is also responsible for the producer price index which looks at the market from the producer's perspective. Statin also releases information on the international merchandise trade analysing imports and exports in addition to producing the quarterly labour market survey. On an annual basis it conducts population projections and also works with the Planning Institute of Jamaica to produce the Survey of Living Conditions.