Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal on Monday directed the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to send a fresh summary to the Council of Common Interest and Prime Minister Office with a fresh timeline for the 7th Digital Census 2022.
The minister made these directions while chairing a meeting to review progress on the 7th Digital Census.
During the meeting, the minister was apprised of the progress on the census. PBS Chief Statistician Dr. Naeem-uz-Zafar informed the minister that an earlier summary was submitted after an agreement with National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to conduct a census from 15th October 2022 to 15th November 2022.
However, due to a delay in the opening of the letter of credit as well as the prevailing economic situation, NADRA remained unable to provide tablets, said Dr. Naeem, adding that complete 126,000 tablets will be handed over in instalments by December 2022 and census ERP (complete software solutions) by 15th October 2022 for testing.
Keeping in view the sensitivity of the matter, PBS adjusted the training of master trainers and training of trainers at the divisional level in the months of November and December 2022. However, as training at the tehsil level for 120,000 field staff and fieldwork 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 from 1st February 2023 to 4th March 2023 and results after the conduct of post enumeration survey will be handed over to Election Commission of Pakistan 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 PM Office due to the sensitivity of the matter. He also emphasized that further delay cannot be accepted as the next elections will be based on this census.
The minister also directed PBS to ensure the quality of the training at the tehsil level. He advised including Higher Education Commission (HEC) and academia to monitor the training at the tehsil level as quality training is essential for credible and reliable data. He was of the view the assessment should be done by an independent third body.
Dr. Naeem informed the minister that so far NADRA has handed over 22,000 tables for the census which have been hardened and are now ready for dispatch, while the remaining will be handed over soon. He apprised that 21,600 more tablets will reach PBS today and will be in the hardening process soon.
It was further informed that training of master trainers will start from November 28 to December 10, while self-enumerator will be started from 15th January 2023. The minister directed to expedite the process and strictly adhere to the revised timelines, keeping in view the sensitivity of the matter.
The meeting was attended by the Secretary Planning Commission, Chairman NADRA, and other officials.