Provinces urged to play greater role in making census more credible
ISLAMABAD: Planning secretary Hamid Yaqoob chaired a progress review meeting on bringing transparency, credibility, and ownership in the entire census process and the sensitivity of the issue and its long-term effects on Friday.
The Council of Common Interests (CCI) in its 45th meeting held on April 12, 2021, decided to approve the final results of the 6th Population and Housing Census-2017 in the larger national interest and also decided that “the process of next census should start as early as possible, according to the international best practices by using the latest technology”.
Keeping in view the importance of the issue, the government has constituted a committee of renowned demographers and experts from all the provinces under the chair of Planning Commission deputy chairman to bring credibility and transparency to the whole census and to adopt best international practices with extensive terms of reference for the 7th Population and Housing Census (Digital Census).
The committee held seven meetings and reviewed the Census 2017 processes in detail to identify the issues and observed that one of the major issues was “trust deficit” due to the lack of involvement of the stakeholders, especially provinces in the whole census process.
The committee strongly recommended that to bring transparency, credibility, and ownership of the whole census processes, the provinces must be involved from start to end, i.e., from planning to the compilation of the census results.
As per the recommendations of the committee, the government decided to involve the provinces in each step; therefore, the first initial meeting was held on August 13, 2021 under the chairmanship of secretary, Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives with chief secretaries of all the four provinces.
The Planning, Development and Special Initiatives secretary was given a brief background of the issue and informed that owing to the sensitivity of the matter and its long-term ramifications, it is imperative to include all the stakeholders, especially provinces in the whole process to start with clear roles and responsibilities to avoid the problems being faced in the past.
It was also informed that detailed physical meetings of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) teams will be held in the next fortnight with the provincial governments/AJ&K and Gilgit-Baltistan for detailed deliberation and feedback for the conduct of the 7th Population and Housing Census.
Muhammad Sarwar Gondal, member of the PBS, presented in detail the broader recommendations of the Census Committee with a clear roadmap and timelines to complete the processing time for the provision of data to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for the conduct of the next elections.
He also highlighted the role of provinces in the field of data collection and monitoring process. All honourable participants appreciated the work done by the PBS and were of the view that the political ownership of the process is essential for the successful conduct and census and wider acceptability of results; therefore the provincial governments and political leadership may be taken into confidence before proceeding further.
All the chief secretaries and representatives of the provincial governments agreed to fully support the PBS for conducting this gigantic task.
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