ISLAMABAD - The government on Wednesday approved budget for the population and housing census worth of Rs14.5 billion, which will be shared by the provinces, as the government decided to conduct the sixth census in March 2016 with the support of the armed forces.

The approval of the budget was granted during the 8th meeting of the Governing Council of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), which was chaired by Chairman Governing Council/ Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. The Member/ Secretary informed that PBS has initiated number of preparatory actions and prepared activity calendar by fixing the time schedule of each activity with its target dates.

The Governing Council also approved the activity calendar in the meeting with slight changes in the completion dates. The preliminary results of population census will be available on June 16. The chair desired that all the activities including district wise data/ results might be completed up to December 2017.

The Council of Common Interests (CCI), an inter-provincial body, under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif decided on March 18 that the sixth population census would be conducted in March 2016 with the support of the armed forces. Conducting a population census after every 10 years is a constitutional obligation; the last census took place in 1998. Back in 2010, the CCI had decided to conduct a population census in 2011 but the previous Pakistan Peoples Party government could not implement the decision.

During the Governing Council of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the Finance Minister was briefed about the methodology to be used in the Census-2016 along with major questions to be asked in the Census Operation.  The chair desired that a comparative analysis of methodology used in the 1998-Census and proposed for Census-2016 may be made and same may be presented in the next meeting of the Governing Council to avoid any loophole in the process.

The meeting was informed that Long Form (Sample Form) having complex variables would be filled in on sample basis using two-stage sample design. A proposal was presented to set up a National Census Apex Committee. The chair approved the composition of the proposed Committee. The chair also desired that Technical Committees on various subjects might be formed separately by including experts of relevant fields and members of the Governing Council.

The PBS may bring their composition in the next meeting for approval. The chair also desired that consultative meetings may be held with the experts with in the country and at international level to ensure a successful census.

The budget for the census was presented. The Governing Council agreed to the broad allocation proposed. The Finance Secretary also assured that adequate funds would be made available as and when required.

The chair desired that it should be ensured that no census activities should be hampered due to non-availability of financial resources in time. The chair categorically directed that funds required for the purpose would be provided as demanded.

Briefings on the conduct of Agriculture, Livestock and Machinery Census and on the Re-basing of National Accounts were made. The Governing Council expressed satisfaction on the progress; however, PBS was asked to ensure that these actions should not hinder the Census-2016.

Dr. Zeba Sathar, Member, Governing Council/ Chairperson of the Review Committee on General Statistics (Re-organization) Act, 2011 informed the house that the Review Committee was of the view that no major changes are required in the Act at this stage. However, if issues arise at any stage the same could be resolved through amendments in the draft Governing Council (Procedure & Conduct of Business) Rules.

The PBS thanked the chair and all other concerned for regularisation of 256 PSLM project employees and continuation of this activity on regular bases. The Member Governing Council was of the view that data being collected through PSLM survey may be given due projection and this data may be used by all concerned in the planning process. The participants were of the view that a seminar at national level may be organised. The chair agreed to the proposal.