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ECC okays worth Rs5b for ‘digital population census’

23 Jan, 2022
An enumerator marks a house after collecting information from a resident during a census in Karachi. AFP/File
An enumerator marks a house after collecting information from a resident during a census in Karachi. AFP/File

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved Rs5 billion funds to conduct the first-ever digital population census within 18 months so that the next elections of 2023 may be held on the basis of the results of the 7th Population and Housing Census.

On a summary moved by the Ministry of Planning, the ECC approved an Rs5 billion Technical Supplementary Grant (TSG) for the acquisition of software, hardware, and other essential items for conducting the Census.

The Planning Ministry in the summary stated that in compliance with the decision of the CCI, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) has started preparatory work to conduct the first-ever digital Population and Housing Census.

The Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives (PD&SI) also constituted a Census Advisory Committee (CAC) with renowned demographers and experts to devise recommendations for the adoption of international best practices by using the latest technology for the Census. The Committee held several meetings and after detailed deliberations finalised the recommendations with transparency for wider acceptability of the Census. One of the main recommendations of the committee is to carry out the census “digitally” with real-time monitoring and geo-tagging of all structures at the block level.

The Planning Commission further stated that the federal cabinet in its meeting dated October 2021 has approved the recommendations of the CAC to complete the task within 18 months, so that the upcoming General Elections of 2023 may be conducted on the basis of the results of the 7th Population and Housing Census. In view of the challenging timelines, the PBS has initiated its work for acquisition of software, hardware, the establishment of the National Census Coordination Centre (N3C), acquisition of high-resolution imagery, publicity campaign, etc to complete the assignment task as per duly approved by the cabinet, mentioned in the summary.

A lump provision of Rs5 billion under Demand 045-Grant, subsidies, and miscellaneous expenditure was allocated under the demand of the Finance Division in the budget for the current fiscal year for the conduct of the 7th Population and Housing Census. Since, the Ministry of Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives is the administrative ministry of the PBS. Finance Division was requested to surrender the funds in favour of the PBS, Ministry of Planning, and this was endorsed by the Finance Division, the Planning Ministry requested the ECC.

The story was originally published in Business Recorder on January 23, 2022.