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Coalition: ‘Critical’ for gov’t stats to remain independent

Francisco Montalvo

The Puerto Rico Private Sector Coalition stepped up in defense of the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics over the weekend, claiming that it is “critical to have a body that ensures the independence and transparency of metrics and government statistics to provide complete, reliable, fast and universal data.”

The Coalition, an organization that brings together more than 30 local trade organizations, believes that given the island’s current circumstances and the potential impact of austerity measures under consideration merit having reliable numbers.

Last week, the Institute came under fire after Gov. Ricardo Rosselló dismissed several Board members, including Chairman Antonio Fernós, a prominent economist and professor.

“On a global level, access to data and information can constitute a determining advantage both individually and at the government level. Decision-making is a process that becomes tougher given the acknowledgement of the complexity and the volume of information that can exist,” said Francisco Montalvo-Fiol, coordinator of the Coalition.

“So there is an urgent need that information that is essential to make decisions is available to the public, that the information is produced rapidly and the data included are reliable,” he said.

Montalvo-Fiol also gave a nod to Institute of Statistics Executive Director Mario Marazzi, who for the last 10 years has been at the helm of the agency, and will reportedly stay in his post until a court decides whether his re-appointment by the agency’s former Board is valid.

The Coalition spokesman recognized Marazzi’s “enormous task…to give consistency and reliability to the island’s statistics system. At present, stability and confidence in the Institute is needed. In addition, changes in the Board of the Institute eliminated highly qualified and recognized professional in the fields of accounting, finance and demographics,” said Montalvo-Fiol.

The development of national statistical systems around the world points to the growing need for information on Puerto Rico’s demographic and socio-economic reality.

For the public sector, statistics help quantify and identify needs and establish appropriate strategies. Statistics also facilitate knowledge to private firms about supply and demand for goods and services and their changes over time as well as aspects of existing potential markets and infrastructure, thereby providing elements for formulating investment programs, the Coalition said.

For many years the Coalition — and the various member associations — has highlighted the value of information as a vital element for the formulation of public policy.

“We believe the Institute of Statistics is an essential tool to enable the island to overcome the challenges it currently faces,” Montalvo-Fiol said.

Institute of Statistics launches new website
In related news, the Institute of Statistics unveiled Friday its redesigned website, which offers a “friendlier and easier format for users to navigate,” Marazzi said.

The new site has been developed using open-source software known as Drupal and CKAN, so its development did not represent an additional cost to the government; only Institute staff time required the to set up and develop it.

The website includes a section dedicated to statistics, including Inventory Statistics, the main repository of information on Puerto Rico’s statistics. There is also a section for the Institute’s publications, another for the Academies the Institute offers as a way of continuing education and professional development and a press room, among others.

New sections include latest statistics, applications and a population clock, among others.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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