ISLAMABAD: A day after the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet delayed approval of Rs5 billion for 7th Population and Housing Census, the meeting of the federal cabinet has directed to continue the process of census without any interruption or delay

On Monday, the meeting of the ECC did not approve Rs5 billion being sought by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms to continue the process of the7th census. However, on Tuesday, the federal cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif instructed to continue the process of the census without any delay.

Sources said that the ECC was informed by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives that the process to conduct the first digital population and housing census was initiated after the decision to this effect was taken by the Council of Common Interests (CCI). It sought approval of Rs5 billion to continue the process.

The ECC meeting was further told that a provision of Rs5 billion is budgeted in the current fiscal year under the demand of the Finance Division to conduct the 7th census. As the Ministry of Planning is the administrative ministry of the PBS; therefore, the Finance Division is requested to surrender the funds in favour of the Planning and Development Ministry.

The ministry put up a summary contending that it is being forwarded for the approval of the ECC on the advice of the Finance Division for the approval of TSG. The meeting was informed that the CCI in its April 2021 meeting had approved the final results of the 6th Population and Housing Census 2017 and also decided that the process of the next census should be started as early as possible according to international best practices by using the latest technology.

In compliance with the said decision of the CCI, the PBS started preparatory work to conduct the first digital population and housing census and Minister for Planning and Development has also constituted a census advisory committee (CAC). The CAC comprised renowned demographers and experts to devise recommendations with regard to the adoption of international best practices by using the latest technology for the 7th Population and Housing Census.

The committee after several meetings finalised the recommendations for conducting of census with transparency and wider acceptability.

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 activities for the conduct of 7th census are in full swing and a pilot census has been completed on 3rd August 2022.

The PBS has also engaged all relevant organizations and agencies including the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), SUPARCO, NTC, Ministry of Information and Technology, provincial/district administrations and armed forces to complete this mega event of national importance. —ZAHEER ABBASI