Statement by Hon. Lorna G. Smith, OBE,
Deputy Premier and Minister for Financial Services, Labour and Trade
Population and Housing Census 2023
Ladies and gentlemen,
I extend my warmest greetings to all those who proudly call the Virgin Islands their home.
Allow me to address a crucial matter concerning our Government's active engagement with you as we develop plans that cater to the diverse needs of our population.
It has been announced that the national population and housing census will commence on the 15th of June 2023. This census, initially scheduled for 2020, regrettably had to be postponed due to the disruptive impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the Minister responsible for statistical services, under the auspices of the Ministry of Financial Services, Labour and Trade, I am reaching out to you today, as valued members of our community. I implore you to recognise the paramount importance of participating in this year's census, under the theme: "Participation from you and me, is the key to Census 2023."
Ensuring the accurate and adequate representation of all residents in the Virgin Islands remains a primary priority for this year’s census. The data generated from this census holds immense value in determining the fair allocation, distribution, and utilisation of government resources to effectively manage and maintain our Territory.
Questions of utmost importance arise when considering the quality of our housing stock, our unique vulnerabilities to natural disasters, the demographic makeup of our population, the health conditions of our people, the level of education within our society, the employment situation, the dominant industries driving our economy, the susceptibility of our economy to external shocks, and the percentage of households with Internet access.
The answers to these questions will directly inform and justify the allocation of resources towards improved public health, housing, political representation, and educational initiatives. Furthermore, they will provide us with a clear understanding of our dynamic society and its ever-changing needs, enabling us to respond effectively and optimally.
In the past, there has been some reluctance among members of our community to participate in the census for various reasons. I want to emphasise that the Statistical Act of 2005 strictly prohibits the Central Statistics Office from disclosing any personal information collected during the census, including data-sharing among government agencies. You can rest assured that the strictest levels of confidentiality will be upheld and maintained through our democratic institutions. Also rest assured that your information will not be used for any other purpose than stated in the census.
I would like to emphasize that our primary goal is to leverage the data collected through this household survey, ensuring that our decision-making processes are grounded in evidence and responsive to the needs of all communities.
It is crucial for you to understand that this information will amplify the voices of all communities and increase visibility for those who often feel unseen.
Without accurate census data we cannot make adequate plans to avoid issues such as overcrowded classrooms, impractical infrastructure, and underfunded social programmes. Achieving our objectives requires meaningful collaboration and engagement with all communities across the Virgin Islands.
Every person counts, and therefore, each of us must be accounted for. Let us therefore capitalise on this opportunity to wholeheartedly embrace the principles of mutual trust and cooperation.
In conclusion, I earnestly urge everyone living in the Virgin Islands to participate in the upcoming census. Your participation holds immense significance! Remember the guiding theme: "Participation from you and me is the key to census 2023."
Thank you, and may we move forward together towards a brighter future for the Virgin Islands.