Budget to be presented on May 26: Dar

April 17,2017

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Objection from abroad to Pak Army’s role in census unacceptable

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Finance Muhammad Ishaq Dar on Sunday said that the federal budget for fiscal 2017-18 would be presented on May 26, 2017. He said that foreign objection to the role of Pakistan Army in the census exercise was unacceptable.

Ishaq Dar said that all-out efforts were being made to ensure transparency and credibility of the 6th population and housing census being held under the supervision of the Pakistan Army.

Addressing a press conference here with Chief Census Commissioner Asif Bajwa, he congratulated the census staff, army personnel, all the provincial chief ministers and the nation on the successful completion of the first phase of the census.

The minister said the first phase had been completed in 63 districts and the second one would start on April 25 and continue for a month. The information and data gathered through the extensive census exercise would be made public after its compilation that would take a couple of months further, he added.

The minister said in 1998, it was also the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government that had conducted the population census under the leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and again the credit went to it for holding the 6th national census.

He said the current census was being held after 19 years which, otherwise, should have been conducted after every 10 years. The government had decided to conduct the census in 2016, but due to the Operation Zarb-e-Azb and reservations of the stakeholders, it was postponed.

Paying tributes to those martyred during the exercise, he said the government had announced compensation for their heirs. Ishaq Dar said during the first phase, around half of the country's population and families had been counted. He said around 172,000 staffers took part in the first phase and hopefully the second phase would also be completed successfully.

The minister said the prime minister had tasked his Special Assistant Khawaja Zaheer to help resolve the problems confronted by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics during the exercise from time to time. To a question, he said the census in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) would be held in the second phase as had been requested by the parliamentarians from the region.

Dar said around 75 percent internally displaced persons had returned to their homes as the government was extending full assistance to them, including transportation charges. Regarding the Awaran and Kech districts of Balochistan, he said census would also be carried out in those districts. He said all the expenses on the census exercise were being incurred under the set rules.

Owing to the country's security situation, army personnel's deployment was necessary for the smooth census operation, he added. To another question, the minister said six teams of international observers, who were monitoring the census, had expressed their satisfaction over its credibility and transparency. He said the nation should reject all the rumours about the transparency and credibility of the census.

He said he had received a letter from the Sindh chief minister expressing his reservations on the census which, however, had been addressed up to his satisfaction. The census results could not be changed according to anyone's desires, he added.


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