ISLAMABAD - Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani yesterday tasked the Senate Finance Committee to review the relevant laws to give due representation to the provinces and FATA in the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) before the conduct of the next census.

The chair gave these directions after the govt refused to give an assurance in the Upper House that it would amend the laws to give due representation to all the provinces and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in the PBS.

An important meeting of the Council of Common Interests, which was held under the chair of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif here on Monday, decided to postpone census scheduled to be held in March and April this year.

The arguments from the chair and the government came during the discussion on a resolution moved by PPP Senator Sussi Palejo.

“This House recommends that the government should ensure representation of Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA in the board of functional members and governing council of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics in order to hold an equitable and transparent population Census- 2016,” stated the resolution.

After the government’s refusal to give assurance, the chair said that census was a very sensitive issue and heaven would not fall if the government would give due representation to the provinces in the top Federal statistics body responsible for conducting census.

“The Federal government has discretion over the holding of census and provinces are nowhere to be seen,” the chair said while reading out the relevant law,adding, that the central politics remained a discussion from the very first day and the country dismembered into two parts due to thinking of strong centralisation.

“I cannot send a message that Federation cannot solve the issues,” he said before referring the matter to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance.

He said that the Special Committee of Parliament to Oversee the Devolution Process had already given its recommendations in this connection.

He gave a one-month time to the Committee to give its report and look whether the Federal laws could be amended for this purpose and did not put the resolution to vote.

Earlier, Federal Minister Zahid Hamid said that under the law, the Federal government was not bound to give representation of all provinces in PBS. “However, there are three members from Sindh and one each from KP, Balochistan and Punjab in the Governing Council of PBS.

Similarity, there are three members from Punjab and one each from Sindh and AJK in its functioning body,” he remarked.

When the chair sought assurance, he said that he could not give assurance to the House because the final decision would remain with the Prime Minister. However, the members participating in the debate on the solution said that there were asking for amending the law.

Separately, the House unanimously passed the resolution that recommended the government to “announce a special package for economic and educational development in FATA”.

Speaking on a motion, the Opposition lawmakers criticised the consecutive governments’ lack of interest to recover outstanding payment of $800 million from UAE’s State-owned company Etisalat as a result of privatisation of PTCL. Zahid Hamid informed that the company had stopped the payment because the government had not transferred all the properties to its names. Now only 43 properties have been left and we have asked it to deduct the price of these properties and release the remaining amount, he said. On another motion about Prime Minister’s Health Programme, the Opposition lawmakers condemned the government what they said it had failed to stop the pharmaceutical companies from increasing prices of medicines.