Wednesday January 26, 2022

Process for first-ever digital census begins, Senate told

January 08, 2022
Process for first-ever digital census begins, Senate told

ISLAMABAD: The Senate was informed on Friday that the process for first-ever digital census in the country has been started and the complete field operations (face-to-face interviews) will be carried out from August 1 to August 31 this year.

During the Question-Hour, the House was informed, in reply to a question from PTI Senator Zeeshan Khanzada, that the field operations will be preceded by a Pilot Census to be conducted from May 15 to June 15, 2022.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan, responding to a question, said an amount of Rs16.884 billion had been spent on the National Census in the year 2017. As to formal objections to the exercise, he said the chief minister Sindh made some observations on March, 10, 2017 for smooth field operations of the Census 2017. Afterwards, observations were made on Census 2017 results by the CM Sindh in the CCI meeting held on 13th November, 2017 and therein it was decided to conduct the third party validation of 1pc blocks. In the CCI meeting of November, 24, 2017, it was enhanced to 5pc of blocks.

It was explained to the House that chief minister of Sindh opposed the approval of final results of Census-2017 in the 45th meeting of CCI held on April, 12,2021. However, on the recommendation of Cabinet Committee, the results were approved by the CCI with the majority votes and directed to start the process for the next census at the earliest, while adopting the best international practices and technology usage.

On May 29, 2021, while using his constitutional right under Article 154 (7), the chief minister submitted a reference to the parliament on the CCI’s decision for its placement before the joint session and accordingly during the joint session held on November 17, 2021, the reference was considered wherein the CCI’s decision was approved with majority votes.

The government also conceded more than 100 percent rise in trade deficit in the first quarter of the current fiscal year as compared to the corresponding period of the previous year, but insisted that the imports surged because of enhanced industrial and agricultural activity. However, Senator Mushtaq Ahmad of JI did not agree to this explanation.

In the written reply to his question, the Minister for Commerce said, “Trade deficit during the first quarter of current fiscal year (July-September 2021) stood at US$11.75 billion, compared to US$5.81 billion during the same period in FY2020-21, registering an increase of 102.1%. While exports from Pakistan increased by 27.89% during the first quarter, imports also recorded an increase of 66.11%”.

On behalf of the commerce minister, Ali Muhammad Khan said that the main reason for the relative increase in imports had been an increase in imports of raw materials, food items, Covid-19 vaccines, telecommunication equipment, and transportation goods, as well as the high prices of food related goods in the international market.

He said import of machinery and industrial raw material also increased substantially as a result of investment by the local industry. The sharp increase in the energy prices has resulted in increase of import of petroleum products by 97.28%. Similarly, import of palm oil and sugar has also increased substantially.

Answering another question on behalf of the Finance Ministry, Ali Muhammad Khan said the inflationary pressure was a global phenomenon. "Inflation in Iran was recorded at 35.7% (Nov 21) while it stood at 21.3% in Turkey. Pakistan is a net importer of food items especially crude oil, edible oil, wheat, sugar and pulses. Hence, the food inflation is not a domestic phenomenon,” a written reply to the question said.

The House was told that the government had made difficult decisions of upward adjustment in overdue gas and electricity prices, market-based exchange rate adjustments, etc., to correct the macroeconomic imbalances. Moreover, the government has been effectively managing the required supply of all the essential items by bridging the demand supply gap with imports to ensure sufficient supply of food items in the country to control the price escalation. The House will now resume on Monday afternoon.