Colm Imbert___use

Finance Minister Colm Imbert

THE potential for big data to transform government is vast and is something that is being actively pursued, according to Finance Minister Colm Imbert.

Speaking virtually at the United Nations Trinidad and Tobago Big Data Forum on Wednesday, Imbert said big data can also be useful in providing real-time information such as tax collection and issuing official documents.

“With real-time data at their disposal, Government agencies can make more informed decisions, improve their services and take appropriate action quickly. Big data also has the potential to either improve the operations of a government or dictate a political outcome at the polls.”

Imbert outlined that he utilises big data to prepare the yearly budget.

“I rely on a lot of data to guide us as we project revenue for the coming year. In particular, big data is the foundation for estimating oil and gas prices and production, which are essential elements of our budget process.”

He noted that the Ministry of Digital Transformation is focused on implementing its digital transformation programme, which commences in fiscal 2022 and the Ministry of Education will also embark on a digital transformation programme to facilitate digital fluency at all levels in the education system and among all stakeholders.

“The Ministry of Planning and Development is also transforming the Central Statical Office (CSO). This will allow for accurate and up-to-date information from one central source. Data is a valuable tool for planning and allocation of resources. The adoption of big-data technologies will thus allow for the real-time publication of economic and financial data,” he said.

However, Imbert warned big data has some disadvantages, as in 2016 British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica was found to have misused individual electronic data for the purposes of interfering with the electoral process of various countries.

He said that it is paramount that any big-data ecosystem also includes measures to prevent abuse.

“Users’ rights will remain at the forefront of any policy governing big data. The Government will therefore engage in legislative review to ensure instances of potential for abuse,” Imbert noted.

The minister noted that an aggressive agenda has been set to ensure that this country does not get left behind but that it is positioned to lead the region in technology.

“I would like to assure the public that the government is committed to ensuring that all of these projects will come to fruition.”

He noted that Trinidad and Tobago has the capacity to harness all the potential of big data, due to its modern telecommunications infrastructure, state-of-the-art Tier 3 data centres, 100 per cent mobile-cellular network, mobile penetration of 142 per cent, internet penetration of 77 per cent a and a highly qualified talent pool to propel data analytics

Additionally, Imbert said the Government recently agreed to subscribe fully to the International Monetary Fund’s Enhanced General Data Dissemination System, which supports improved data transparency, encourages statistical development, and, very importantly, helps create synergies between data dissemination and policymaking.

Imbert told the virtual meeting during the question and answer segment that Government is hoping to achieve most of its objectives in digital transformation by 2022. Those objectives include electronic national identity for citizens, along with cashless transactions throughout most of the public service.

Also he said training and access to funding will be provided.

“One of the most important things is access to proper and modern technology. We have found that quite a few people in the system are not tech savvy and they now occupy senior positions within the public service, so there’s a lot of training that is going to be required,” Imbert stressed.

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU

MASSY Holdings CEO, Gervase Warner, yesterday confirmed that the group is scheduled to cross-list its shares on the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) on January 27, 2022.

Massy published an abridged statement on the website of the JSE last Friday “in accordance with the listing requirements of the Jamaica Stock Exchange.”

In the abridged statement Massy describes itself as an investment management/holding company engaged in three main industry portfolios; integrated retail, motors & machines and gas products in Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean region.

THE COVID-19 pandemic led to a reduction of suspicious financial transactions as a result of a decline in reporting by regis­tered business, according to the 2021 report of the Financial Intel­ligence Unit of T&T (FIUTT), which was laid in Parliament last Friday.

There was an 88-per cent decline in the value of suspicious transactions—from $27 billion in 2020 to $3.1 billion in 2021.

GUYANA’S umbrella private sector body, the Private Sector Commission, (PSC) yesterday questioned the “legitimacy” of the Caricom Private Sector Organisation (CPSO) after a leaked document indicated that the regional private sector body had raised concerns regarding the recently approved Local Content Act in Guyana.

Stockbrokerage and securities dealer Barita Investments Ltd yesterday said it had successfully financed “a landmark transaction for Jamaica and Barita”.

Majority State-owned bank, First Citizens, is the second largest shareholder in Barita, through a wholly owned subsidiary, First Citizens Investment Services Ltd. FCIS holds 90,795,154 Barita shares, which were worth J$8.61 billion or US$56.29 million. First Citizens loaned Cornerstone Financial Holdings Ltd US$25 million in September 2020.