The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) has outlined the various administrative issues that caused the delay in the completion of the 2022 National Population and Housing Census.
The Census, scheduled for April 2021, was pushed to September of the following year due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The data collection exercise was expected to be completed by December 2022 however a new target of March 2023 was set due to a lack of workers.
During the Wednesday (March 1) sitting of the Standing Finance Committee of the House of Representatives, Carol Coy, director general of STATIN, shared that the institute is still having issues recruiting workers for the data collection exercise. The March 2023 target will not be met, but a new target has not been set.
In a release on Monday (March 13), Coy said that, despite the institute’s best efforts, it was impacted by internal resource constraints that included some turnover in key posts before the start of data collection.
“These constraints resulted in delays in the recruitment, training and on boarding of census takers and supervisors. As such, there was a phased approach to the start of data collection. We acknowledge that this may have led to some frustration among census workers, and we continue to work assiduously to resolve the issues,” said Coy.
Approximately 7,000 census workers were needed to complete the exercise. However, STATIN has only been able to recruit some 4,000. The parishes most affected by the shortfall in field staff are St James, Hanover, Clarendon, Manchester, St Catherine, and St Andrew.
Coy shared that there were also administrative issues that impacted the project during the first four rounds of training. These included delays in payment to trainees and the onboarding of census workers, including the time it took to distribute identification cards (IDs) and contracts.
“In subsequent rounds, however, these issues have been addressed, and effective solutions have been implemented, mitigating the recurrence in subsequent rounds,” said Coy.
In addition to the administrative issues, the director general said there was a delay in the procurement of tablets for the exercise. A total of 7,000 tablets were to be procured for the exercise, after which they would be wiped and donated to schools across the island.
The issue of low compensation was also a factor that resulted in the delay in the data collection process. According to Dr Nigel Clarke, minister of finance and the public service, wages have been increased to boost recruitment. But, the withholding of taxes also aggrieved some trainees.
“We have, however, advised the census workers that for those persons who fall below the income tax threshold, there is a process through which the withheld tax can be recovered. STATIN will provide a copy of the P24 on request to census workers to facilitate this process,” said Coy.
A budget of J$2.4 billion was allotted for the Census that is being carried out in all 14 parishes and 5,776 enumeration districts. It is the 15th census in Jamaica’s history and operates under the theme ‘Yuh count, Mi count, All a wi count!”
The general census report is expected to be available by December 2023.
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