As most of the data collected in the last population census about 17 years ago has become redundant, the government has decided to push a case afresh for new population census in the next meeting of Council of Common Interests (CCI).
The decision to revive the summary for holding population census in the next CCI meeting was taken during a Governing Council (GC) meeting of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), chaired by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Saturday. The CCI is chaired by the prime minister and all provincial chief ministers are its members.
The members of the Governing Council were of the opinion that availability of fresh census data is a dire need. The members suggested to Dar that this issue should be submitted to the next CCI meeting. The chair said that CCI is the proper forum to decide about the matter and that he will take necessary steps to bring up this issue in the next meeting.
Provinces are reluctant to hold the next census, fearing that they may lose significant share in financial resources and civil service as a result of demographic changes that have taken place since 1998. The population census becomes base for determining provincial shares in federal resources and in determination of provincial quotas.
The meeting also reviewed the progress made on decisions regarding change of base year for the purpose of Gross Domestic Product estimation, Gross Fixed Capital Formation from 2005 to 2015-16 and similarly, the change of base year for computation of price indices from 2007-8 to 2015-16.
The meeting also discussed updating of the sampling frame for urban and rural areas of the country for conducting surveys and censuses. The member-secretary briefed about the process of up gradation and the use of GPS devices for this purpose. He explained that after completion of this exercise, PBS will be able to give complete digitised maps showing detailed information and land marks in the concerned areas.
The meeting informed that the entire urban area, comprising of 48,052 enumeration blocks, have already been updated from PBS resources, whereas up gradation of rural area frame is being planned for which PC-1 amounting to Rs306 million has been prepared and submitted to the Planning Division for approval.
The Governing Council approved to combine three agriculture censuses, Agriculture Census, Agriculture Machinery Census and Livestock Census into one aimed at saving time and resources. It was also decided that the agriculture census will be conducted after every five years.
The Governing Council also decided to continue the Pakistan Social and Living Measurement survey in any format and also suggested to enhance the scope of the survey by including more areas of policy issues like data on fertility and agriculture.
The meeting was also briefed about the digitisation of Manual Maps prepared for use in different censuses and surveys. It was informed that a number of meetings have been held with the Provincial Revenue Departments to collect Mauza maps.
The chair was informed that PBS was assigned the responsibility of developing Saarc STAT Database and Web Portal for all the member states. The PBS has successfully achieved the target and in recognition of the services, it has been asked to maintain and update the same in future.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2015.