Monday, November 16, 2009

NMI takes part in workshop to develop islands' GDP

NMI takes part in workshop to develop islands' GDP

Monday, November 16, 2009

WAIKIKI, Hawaii-A team of CNMI government officials from the Department of Commerce and the Department of Finance, along with representatives from American Samoa, Freely Associated States, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands participated in a weeklong session with officials from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Office of Insular Affairs in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The participants were welcomed by Nikolao Pula, director of the Office of Insular Affairs, who stressed the importance of the gathering.

The session was aimed at the collection of data required for the development of the island areas' Gross Domestic Product. The GDP is a measurement of the economic health used to determine the direction of change of an economic jurisdiction within a specified period of time.

“Without a GDP measure, it becomes very difficult to quantify the direction of the economy. It is common for people to generalize that the economy is in bad shape, but no one can quantify to what extent. This measure is important as it provides data on which way our economy is moving and to what extent the change is year-over-year,” said CNMI Commerce Secretary Michael Ada.

The National Income and Products Accounts are accounts developed and used by the Bureau of Economic Analysis to develop the final results of the National GDP, as they are one of the primary sources of data on economic activity in the nation. All of the insular areas have gone without a GDP measure to date; however, efforts have been ongoing since early 2005 to develop such a measure. Due to the small size and economic anomalies that exist within the island areas, it has been difficult to utilize the national GDP measures and apply them to the island areas.

“This session was very helpful as it allowed the island governments to understand what data is important for the BEA to collect in order to arrive at the GDP's for each of the jurisdictions. We were able to provide wage data, sales revenues, and other economic data to aid the BEA in their analysis and calculations,” said Marie Muña, of the Electronic Data Processing Division of the CNMI Department of Finance.

The CNMI was required to make a presentation that discussed the data from the CNMI's audited financial statements, wage data, and gross receipts data. The CNMI team was required to address several questions from federal officials with regards to CNMI relevant data.

“We answered questions and provided information relevant to Private Consumption Expenditures, Income data, and Governmental Expenditures. We were able to ask questions and listen to detailed analysis from BEA economists, as well as answer many of their questions as to operations and finances within the CNMI,” said Vivian Nogis from the Division of Customs Service.

The Office of Insular Affairs provided the CNMI with a technical assistance grant to cover the cost to send four CNMI officials to Honolulu, Hawaii for the event. According to Canice Diaz of the Division of Revenue and Taxation, all islands were appreciative of the OIA for its support of this effort.

“It was beneficial to work alongside the other insular areas to understand the commonalities and differences within the areas. It was also helpful to speak directly with the people who are working to assist the islands in developing their GDP,” said Diaz. (PR)

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