Seventh census deferred for three months

  • Fieldwork for data collection to be started from February 1, 2023.
  • Planning minister asks PBS to send fresh summary to CCI and PM Office. 
  • PBS says Nadra failed to provide tablets due to delay in letter of credit opening.

The schedule for the seventh population and housing Census has been revised as the government decided to delay it for three months, The News reported. 

Following the decision, the fieldwork for the collection of data from 180,000 census blocks all over the country — which was earlier scheduled for this month — will be started on February 1, 2023, and completed by March 4, 2023.

The Ministry of Planning issued an official notification for the deferral of the census. The notification stated that Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal has asked the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to send a fresh summary to the Council of Common Interests and the Prime Minister’s Office with a new timeline for the 7th Digital Census 2022.

As per the notification, the directives were given during a meeting to review the progress on the 2022 census. The meeting was attended by the Planning Commission secretary, the PBS chief, National Database & Registration Authority chairman and other officials.

During the meeting, Iqbal was apprised of the progress on the census. The PBS chief informed him that the earlier summary was submitted after an agreement with the Nadra for conduct of the census w.e.f. October 15, 2022, to November 15, 2022.

However, due to a delay in the opening of the letter of credit due to the prevailing economic situation, Nadra was unable to provide tablets and informed that all 126,000 tablets would be handed over in installments by December 2022 and the census ERP (complete software solutions) by October 15, 2022, for testing.

Keeping in view the sensitivity of the matter, the PBS adjusted the training of master trainers and training of other staffers at the divisional level in November and December 2022. However, training at the Tehsil level for 120,000 field staff cannot be initiated before the complete handover of tablets. Therefore, after all considerations and running activities in parallel, the timelines have been revised and now the fieldwork will be conducted w.e.f. February 1, 2023, to March 4, 2023, and results after the conduct of the post-enumeration survey will be handed over to the ECP by 30th April, 2023 for delimitation purposes.

However, the minister expressed concerns over the extension of the deadline and asked the PBS to urgently intimate the CCI and the PM Office due to the sensitivity of the matter. He emphasised that further delay could not be accepted as the next elections would be based on this census. He directed the PBS to ensure the quality of training at the Tehsil level. He advised including the HEC and academia to monitor training at the Tehsil level as quality training was essential for credible and reliable data. He said the assessment should be done by an independent third body.

The PBS chief informed the minister that so far, the Nadra had handed over 22,000 tables for the census, which had been hardened and were now ready to dispatch and the remaining would be handed over soon. He apprised that 21,600 more tablets would reach the PBS on Monday and would be in the hardening process soon. It was further informed that the training of master trainers would be started from November 28 to December 10, 2022, and self-enumerations would be started from January 15, 2023.

The minister directed expediting the process and strictly adhering to the revised timeline, keeping in view the sensitivity of the m

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