Dickson Igwe for CaribDirect

Contributing writer Dickson Igwe

In BVI news. A lack of critical statistics is a recipe for social and economic failure for the British Virgin Islands.

This first of two stories establishes the importance of statistical information using the analogy of a classic device

 A headline appeared in BVI NEWS on 8 November 2013 which was also a headline on Virgin Islands News Online.

The story in BVI news was titled, ‘’ ECONOMY MAY WORSEN. ’’ In the piece, Honorable Julian Fraser, a formidable political player of these Leewards, stated that, ‘’ a major overhaul of the Development Planning Unit is a must, for until our leader has ready access to reliably accurate statistics, nothing substantial can be expected.’’

Those words had this Layman thinking deeply. And yes, the DPU for all intents and purposes, is a vital department of state. In fact, the DPU could be considered the brain of government: the FLIGHT DECK of the aircraft called the British Virgin Islands. The DPU is in many ways the driver of government strategic activity. It provides the critical numbers that allows decision makers of every type chart the way ahead.

The technology called global positioning is classic science. In its earliest form, global positioning technology took the form of a powerful device called the compass. The compass contributed to man’s extraordinary voyage in history.

The compass was, and is, a device that for hundreds of years contained a magnetized needle indicating magnetic north, and aligned with the earth’s magnetic poles and was used by the captain and crew of the first seafaring vessels. In those historic voyages over the oceans, the compass indicated whether seafarers were on the right path.

Photo courtesy www.bryanewert.net

Photo courtesy www.bryanewert.net

The modern equivalent of the old compass is the Global Positioning System: GPS, which is a system of US navigational satellites providing precise and synchronized data on position, velocity, and time, on land, sea and air.

It also provides an incredible array of data and information; from the location of libraries and museums, to leisure centers, water parks, restaurants, hotels, and hospitals.  The GPS device is swiftly becoming an indispensable travel tool. In the air, GPS technology has made flying incredibly safe. Global positioning has seen hundreds of millions of flights safely take off and land.

The analogy between GPS technology and effective governance is that Governments also need a type of GPS system to know where they are headed. A government has a vision of the future: the ultimate destination where it wants to take the country. That destination, in a free democracy, is a nonbinding agreement contained in the manifesto of the political party. If successful at an election, that party eventually becomes the government.

Consequently, a development plan is frequently the party’s manifesto, become governing blueprint. Ideally, an effective development plan leads to a sound economy and strong economic growth.

This in turn leads to a better quality of life and higher standard of living for the citizenry of a nation. However, in order to get to El Dorado, a pathway is required to be followed that entails more than simply a plan to build this or that project within this or that time span.  That long, winding, and frequently complex pathway known as a development plan uses coordinates, numbers, metrics, and math, just as a GPS device does. These numbers allow a government to navigate effectively, steering the ship of state to the PROMISED LAND.

However, having a development plan is not enough. In fact having a development plan without knowledge of key national metrics is a useless exercise. A government must know the correct numbers to navigate its way forward effectively and precisely. It must know in quantitative terms how to move towards its desired goals.

To be continued……..

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