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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiative Ahsan Iqbal chaired a meeting on the activities of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) and initiatives taken by the PBS for improvement in data reporting for informed decision making.

Dr Naeemuz Zafar, chief statistician along with senior officers of the PBS attended the meeting. The chief statistician briefed the minister about the activities of the PBS and their role in providing timely, reliable, and quality data for evidence-based policymaking in social and economic sectors.

It was also informed that the PBS has shifted from manual data collection to electronic data collection and has achieved an in-house capacity to develop android-based data collection software, mobile apps, and dashboards. He was informed that the PBS being an NSO is working diligently to provide data to policymakers, researchers, and academia in a user-friendly mode interactive mode with time series and infographics at the lowest possible level. It was further informed that the PBS is developing Decision Support Systems and Data Dissemination Systems which would enable the policymakers to take evidence-based decision making.

Major activities of the PBS such as Population and Housing Census, Mouza Census, PSLM/HIES Survey, Labour Force Surveys (LFS), Census of Manufacturing Industries National Accounts, price statistics, trade statistics were explained to the minister and it was also informed that the PBS not only completed their recent series but the data has also disseminated to the policymakers and general public through dashboards in a user-friendly manner.

The minister appreciated the efforts of the PBS and said that reliable and timely data helps the policymakers to make informed decisions. He said that the PBS has a vast repository of data and the PBS should focus on branding itself as an NSO. It should project itself as an efficient and credible technical organization. The PBS should be the nucleus of all statistical activities and should start working with partner organisations, universities, and provincial departments. He also directed that the PBS also hold a series of workshops for the line departments at the federal level especially the Ministry of P&SI, provincial governments, and the District Management for sensitization about the data repository and its effective use for evidence-based policymaking for improving Governance.

The minister is also of the view that the development indicators collected through the PBS census and survey may be compiled at the constituency level as it will not only be able to help for tracking their progress but also create healthy competition. He is also of the view that the PBS may collaborate with the academia to apprise the students and teachers about the practical use of statistics and also create societies of professional statisticians for providing their expert input in improving statistics and its reporting. Further, the PBS may arrange internships for students to equip with the latest statistical methods being employed.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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