ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal has directed the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) and the provincial governments to ensure effective coordination for the timely completion of the country’s first Digital Population and Housing Census.

The minister gave these directions while chairing fourth meeting of the Census Monitoring Committee (CMC) to review progress on the 7th Digital Population and Housing Census held on Wednesday.

The meeting was attended by chief secretaries of all provinces/ regions with relevant secretaries, additional commissioner Islamabad, DG Military Operations, Directorate, representatives from NADRA, NTC, special secretary Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), director general Higher Education Commission (HEC), and senior officers from education, local government and other relevant stakeholders.

“The government is spending Rs34 billion for the country’s first-ever digital census and each penny is public money which must be utilized properly,” said the minister, while directing the PBS to share the details of the procurement purchased for the census.

The minister also inquired about the procurement of the last census and its usage and also asked the provincial governments to attach their officials with PBS in a week so the process of the census could be expedited.

The minister also asked the provincial governments a ban the transfer of officials who have been deputed for census till the completion of the census. It is noted that officials from the education department and others were attached with PBS for the Census.

Chief Statistician PBS gave a brief overview of the agenda of the fourth CMC meeting. The main agenda of the meeting is to devise the mechanism for the appropriate and timely resolution of the issues regarding the Census operations, i.e., provision of staff and master trainers, training of trainers (ToT) and training of enumerators at division and tehsil level and non-joining of provisional census commission from provincial governments.

He informed that the Council of Common Interest (CCI) had directed to conduct the digital census using modern digital technology and PBS initiated the preparations and for provision of 12,6000 tablets and Census ERP, the PBS signed an agreement with NADRA on June 20 for preparation of a comprehensive digital solution for carrying out the first-ever digital census in the country.

He shared the overall progress of Census activities and informed that PBS with the support of all relevant stakeholders had completed major tasks and now prepared for the full rollout of the gigantic task of the Census.

Furthermore, he added that PBS has initiated training of the digital census in three tiers i.e. training of Master Trainers, ToT and training of enumerators. He also discussed the main issues that are being faced by the PBS due to non-willing of joining by Provisional government for conduct of digital census and non-availability of ToT venues at district and tehsil level.

The minister emphasized on the timely completion of the Census and asked the provisional government to nominate the officers on attachment based during census tenure and to immediately provide the training venues along with required facilities to make the training session more effective.

Furthermore, the minister said that whatever information ECP is required before officially handing over the digital census on April 30, 2023, the PBS will continue to share the information so that the homework of the ECP will be complete before the start of the delimitation.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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