Dear Editor,

Reference is made to Ramesh Gampat’s letter in the Stabroek News’ edition of July 15, 2023, with the caption, “Many have questioned the veracity of the statistics Guyana produces.”

In his letter, he sought to, according to him, “help readers interpret the data in economic terms”. He was referring to an article by this author which was published following the debate between the undersigned and the Economic Advisor to the Leader of the Opposition, Elson Low.

Let me acknowledge that Mr. Gampat is a distinguished Guyanese scholar. I have read some of his academic work, including, for example, his study on “Estimates and Ethnic Distribution of Guyana’s Building Stock”. So, I would like to thank the writer for his commentary on my work, which I appreciate.

To question the credibility of datasets is not unusual and unreasonable coming from seasoned researchers and academics. However, one would agree that there has to be a reasonable basis upon which to credibly do so. For example, is the methodology flawed.

The last time this author questioned the credibility of a report was an assertion that was reported in a World Bank fact sheet. And, I believe I had a reasonable premise. Below, I present an excerpt from a letter wrote to this effect, as an example for your readers.

In an updated fact sheet published by the World Bank on Guyana, dated October 6th, 2022, and last updated on November 2, 2022, the Bank highlighted that “in 2020, 71.6% of Guyanese households had experienced income loss compared to January 2020 levels – with the most severe impact typically found in low-income households”. (See the link to the full report here:

My contention is that the World Bank’s estimate of 71.6% is farfetched given that there are a number of other factual and methodological considerations that were evidently NOT employed by the Bank. I have since engaged the Bank’s country representatives and other technical officers to offer some clarification on how they derived this estimate. In response to my concerns, the Bank’s technical team pointed me to the source from which the estimate was used in the Factsheet in respect of the estimated number of households that experienced a loss of income– that is, the COVID-19 socioeconomic online survey conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB).

Having examined the source of the information and methodology employed by the IADB, the credibility of the WB’s Factsheet is now even more questionable. In this regard, the methodology employed and the findings of IADB’s report to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 across the Caribbean, it was found that 71.6% of the households reported an income loss in April 2020. Careful to note, however, is that the IADB’s survey was based on 1,691 respondents with a mean household size of 5 persons, thus, giving rise to 338 households. This sample size represents 0.23% of the population and 0.15% of the total households in Guyana (2012 census data), respectively.

As a rule of thumb, for surveys of this nature a good maximum sample size is around 10% of the population. As such, it would appear that the World Bank (WB) grossly misrepresented the IADB’s survey in its updated Factsheet.

Most notably, the Bank did not qualify the above statement in its factsheet, nor did they make any reference to the source of that information which was the IADB’s survey or included any footnote explaining the methodology used by the IADB, and more importantly to clarify that the 71.6% household is not for the entire country; rather it represented the findings from a very small sample.

So, with this in mind, I would be happy to be edified by Mr. Ramesh Gampat on some of the underlying premises upon which the credibility of the dataset produced by the Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Finance, and the Bank of Guyana, is questioned.

Yours respectfully,
Joel Bhagwandin


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