Tuesday, June 29, 2010

2010 Papua New Guinea census off

Blame levelled at funding and logistics shortfalls


THE 2010 national housing and population census, scheduled to start in two weeks time, will probably be deferred to next year, census director Kit Ronga said yesterday, The National reports.

Ronga cited various logistics problems, including funding, as contributing to the need to defer it from July 11 to a later date although much of the preliminary work had been done.

This is on top of the more than K40 million already expended to update Papua New Guinea’s population.

“We want to defer the national census to next year but full details would be announced after our meeting with National Planning and Monitoring Minister Paul Tiensten.”

Ronga, acting national statistician Joseph Aka and members of the finance committee are expected to meet with Tiensten tomorrow to finalise a new counting date.

“Funding is not the only worry, there were many other pressing issues which had forced us to reach this decision,” Ronga said.

He said one of the reasons was that provinces were not yet ready for the census, although awareness and workshops had been conducted to prepare provincial census coordinators on how the census will be conducted and the expected outcome.

“Funding remittances from the Department of Finance and Treasury to provinces to carry out house listing and council ward mapping exercises have not been forthcoming.

“The process has been very slow and, hopefully, Tiensten would clarify this.”

Ronga said while funding was available, the challenge was how to make it available to provinces to carry out the listing exercises.

Ronga said: “Our case is not an isolated one, previous census exercises experienced similar problems with the release of funds.”

He said that more time was needed now, not the six months that had been allocated, to prepare for the July 11 start.

“We have been very optimistic about the census this year but it seemed we have been too ambitious in our approach towards the project.

“We did not expect it to turn out this way.”

The government allocated K107 million for the National Statistical Office to conduct the nationwide population and housing survey this year.

This allocation included additional funding for 2011 and 2012 to ensure the successful completion of the census.

According to Ronga, a total of K66 million had been made available for the preparations and the actual census this year.

Two-thirds of that money had been spent while the remainder had not been released by Finance and Treasury, he added.

The national census is conducted at 10-year intervals since Independence – in 1980, 1990 and 2000.

The deferral would mean that the government would miss out on important updated facts and figures it needed to plan properly for the people.

It would also mean that vital information and statistics for reviewing and updating implementation strategies for Vision 2010-50 would not be there when needed most.

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