St Catherine reacts to Opposition Leader statement!

Responding to statements made by former Prime Minister Stephenson King in the House of Assembly on Friday, Director of Statistics, Edwin St Catherine says the statements are rather unfortunate. Last week, during the Prime Minister’s Budget Presentation, he announced that the growth rate did not grow by 4.4 percent as was previously announced by King in 2011 but had grown by 0.6 percent.
This statement sparked a debate in the House on how the misinformation occurred causing the Leader of the Opposition to call for the Director of Statistics to be fired. Stephenson King stated in his presentation that he did not concoct the figures and that they came primarily from the Director.
In response, the Director spoke on RCI Midday news accusing King of making false statements in the House.
“Basically he said that I was very convincing that the information we provided at the time was accurate and that I gave them this information with a lot of conviction. That statement that he made was untrue.
“I think, unfortunately, the Opposition Leader was misled. In several technical meetings that I attended, I made my position on the numbers very clear. I indicated that we were having problems with a specific data source. Customs was having many challenges with brokers and also the capability to obtain data from Customs was very challenging and that is the procedure by which we generate the GDP,” he said.
St Catherine further stated that because of these challenges he wrote to the Prime Minister and informed them that there were concerns regarding the figures.
“. . . I wrote the Ministry of Finance indicating clearly that this was the concern with this letter and that they should proceed with caution with that information. I was astonished to hear from the former Prime Minister on this issue and the statements he was making. I thought they were very unfortunate. I believe him to be an honorable man and that he was, in my view, misled.”
More persons have joined the debate on the matter including the General Secretary for the Civil Service Association (CSA), David Demacque who says the CSA “deplores the bashing and the call to fire the Director of Statistics.”
Demacque indicated that there is a call for all public service officers to send letters and use the social media (Twitter and Facebook) to denounce statements made by the former PM in the House.
“Public officers, we believe should be concerned when a politician and in that case, the Leader of the Opposition use the shelter of the House of Assembly and the prerogatives that the House offers to threaten and malign public officers and in that case the Director of Statistics.
“The CSA believes it was a little bit ludicrous of the Leader of the Opposition to call for the Director of Statistics to be fired . . . it is another example of political interference in the public service and I believe the Leader of the Opposition should other than anybody else know that the only authority that can fire a public officer is the public service commission,” said Demacque.

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