ISLAMABAD: A virtual meeting between Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal and Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah was held to resolve the observations of the Sindh government over the ongoing Digital Census Exercise.

Members from Sindh Cabinet and senior officers from the PBS, the NADRA, and the NTC also attended the meeting.

Muhammad Sarwar Gondal, Member SSRM and spokesperson of the PBS updated the forum with the latest progress of census activities and province-wise position of important indicators.

He apprised about the problem faced in field, technical support provided through Census Support Centres and NADRA teams to field staff, management of census work at the head office through working groups, start of computer-assisted telephonic interviews (CATI) for data validation and quality, inclusion of internal migrants due to flood 2022, mechanism of counting of aliens and assurance of completion of work at Block level through geo-tagging.

The concerns raised by CM Sindh were the provision of dashboards to census district officers to validate that all the houses in a UC are enumerated or not, verification of family members, a comprehensive mechanism to count flood affectees, an effective publicity campaign on mainstream media and implementation of ring back tone with census message to aware the general public.

Chief Census Commissioner PBS Dr Naeemuz Zafar, along with Member SSRM/ official spokesperson, PBS, Rabia Awan DDG, other senior officers of the PBS and representatives from the NADRA and the NTC assured that all concerns of Sindh Government will be addressed. They said access to dashboards has already been provided. Digital census is different from conventional as former is more transparent, efficient, and effective and it also enables real-time progress monitoring. Provincial government’s access to monitoring will help in reducing the trust deficit and increasing ownership.

They further requested Sindh Government to cooperate for the smooth conduct of exercise. It was also requested that after resolving of highlighted issues it will become difficult to further bring any change in the running system.

“Census is an important exercise for allocation of resources and policymaking by government. It provides basic data for the implementation of development projects. Therefore, confidence building of all stakeholders and their involvement from planning of census till the finalisation of results is important. Provinces are important stakeholders in this process; therefore, all their reservations about the process must be addressed. Further, they must be given access to dashboards till household level by showing aggregated information. SMS gateway must be implemented for verification of household members”, the planning minister gave directions to the PBS and collaborating partners.

He requested the CM Sindh that cooperation from the Sindh Government for the provision of logistics and human resources is required to complete the enumeration process within the given time frame. He shared that resolutions of issues will reduce the trust deficit of the province.