Census chief asked to finalise census plan by next week

ISLAMABAD: The government has directed Chief Census Commissioner to ascertain exact number of personnel going to be spared by top military brass for performing duty with enumerators in coming population census and finalise its plan till Tuesday next week.By next week, it will be decided that the population will be held in accordance with Council of Common Interests (CCI) decision by coming March/April 2016 or again it will be shelved for indefinite period even after the pause of 18 years.Without support of Pak Army, the next population census cannot be undertaken as it is necessary for giving credibility to the census exercise as well as for ensuring security of enumerators in all over the country.“The Chief Census Commissioner Asif Bajwa is in close contact with DGMO and General Headquarters (GHQ) and he will come up with finalised plan by next week after ascertaining exact number of soldiers going to be assigned by Army with enumerators so that the government can chalk out its future plan related to holding of next population census,” official sources confirmed to The News here on Friday.

The Army has not yet firmed up its total provision of troops requirement so different models are under consideration to minimise the total requirement.One option is to assign one enumerator with two blocks out of total 166,801 blocks in all over the country that will minimise the requirement of total deployment from 400,000 to less than 200,000 but this model will increase the completion period from three weeks to six weeks.This scribe made efforts to get viewpoint of Chief Census Commissioner Asif Bajwa but he did not attend calls. However, the sources said that the decision would be made by next week whether to hold the population census or defer it again even after pause of 18 years as last census was held in 1998.According to official announcement of Finance Ministry on Friday, Finance Minister Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar here on Friday chaired a meeting to review arrangements for the Population and Housing Census scheduled for 2016.

Chief Statistician, Asif Bajwa briefed the meeting about the preparations for the census being undertaken by the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS) as the key organisation in coordination with other federal and provincial institutions. He said regular meetings of all the officials concerned and experts were being held to fine tune the arrangements.The finance minister observed that to ensure transparency, smooth and secure conduct of the census, coordination and assistance from the armed forces was critical. He directed the chief statistician to coordinate with the relevant authorities in this regard and submit a complete action plan for his consideration within three days.

The finance minister directed that all the efforts should be made to ensure that census activities were carried out as per schedule. Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and Bureau of Statistics attended the meeting.In separate meeting, Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar here on Friday chaired a meeting to review government’s initiatives for promoting financial inclusion in the country. Matters relating to BISP, PPAF, Prime Minister’s Youth Loan Scheme, micro-finance and expansion of electronic banking services were discussed in detail.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance, briefed the minister on the progress of various initiatives. The meeting reviewed the targets set for various programmes and the achievement made so far. The way forward on each programme was also discussed.

The finance minister stated that it was the endeavour of the government to expand the outreach of banking services to the maximum number of people especially the under-served and underprivileged sections of society. He said that the government programmes should make maximum use of the latest developments in information technology to expand the coverage of financial services to the remotest parts of the country.

The meeting also reviewed arrangements for the visit of Dr Jim Yong Kim, President of World Bank and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands. In another meeting, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting to review progress of revenue collection in the ongoing January–March quarter.

The meeting also discussed the revenue targets set to be achieved during the period from January to June 2016. The meeting had detailed deliberations on the Voluntary Tax Compliance Scheme. The meeting took note of the fact that the scheme had been warmly received by traders and members of the business community. The FBR, the meeting was informed, would undertake an awareness campaign to project the benefits of the scheme and encourage the business community to contribute to the national exchequer with greater zeal.

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