The Federal government has decided to use alternate methodology to hold population census in phases by using electronic devices for census data collection in the country. Submitting report on Wednesday before the Supreme Court in a suo motu case regarding delay in holding population census in the pursuance of court directives, Additional Attorney General for Pakistan Waqar Rana said that possibility for using alternate methodology for conduct of census is also being examined.
Expressing its inability to hold population census before March 2017, the federal government said that three months time would be required for mobilisation and deployment of Armed Forces for the purpose, adding that Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) will use electronic devices for census data collection for the purpose.
While submitted the report, Waqar Rana said the PBS held series of meetings with other stakeholders at federal and provincial level to take them on board, adding that they all showed full support and commitment to conduct of census. The report disclosed that the Finance Division has also allocated budgetary resources in the financial years 2017-17 for the conduct of census. It was submitted that PBS has continued its preparations for holding of census in March-April 2017.
It added that the Statistics Division held meeting with the Nadra authorities to use Nadra’s database, adding that PBS also held a two-day international conference on the challenges/issues pertaining to holding of census in Pakistan where it was recommended that census can be held in phases.
However, the total duration of census may not exceed than eight weeks to avoid response bias, internal/external migration and double counting of individuals. It was also submitted that the time for field operation may be telescoped, adding that the proposal was shared with the M.O.D who, agreed that census may be conducted in phases which will curtail the manpower requirement.
The use of tablets for data collection was also considered. The report further stated that the hardware and software requirement along with total financial cost of the proposal are being worked out along with a time frame. The Statistics Division held follow-up meetings to discuss technical aspects of proposal.
It was informed that the PBS has completed its preparations for using traditional method of conducting census on paper questionnaires while ICR technology is planned to be used for data processing which will curtail data processing time to a minimum and infrastructure has already been in place.
The court was further informed that in view of international experts, PBS can launch field operation in phases of approved by the Council of Common Interests (CCI). Accordingly, it was submitted that a summary has been submitted to IPC Division for placing the census on the agenda of next meeting of CCI proposing the holding of census in March/April, 2017 on traditional method subject to availability of Armed Forces and approval of CCI.
The Statistics Division informed that CCI in its meeting on March 25 2016, reviewed the preparations made by the Statistics Division for conduct of census in the country and decided that efforts should be made to conduct census in the calendar year 2016 subject to availability of required armed forces personnel in order to ensure transparency and credibility.
In pursuance of CCI decision, the department held meeting with the M.O.Dte for sharing of manpower requirement for census operation. They informed that for man to man deployment of Armed Forces personnel with the civilian enumerators the total requirements come to 288000 including to the security and command structure.
The report stated that various possible permutations/combinations were discussed with M.O.Dte and they were of the view that such a large number of Army troops cannot be spared by the Army authorities during current calendar year due to their pre-occupation in security related tasks, however, the availability position will be re-assessed in November-December this year.