Population and Housing Census delayed by almost 2 years

Officials of the National Statistics Bureau (NSB), the government’s statistical agency, are not saying anything on why the Population and Housing Census of Bhutan (PHCB), supposed to be carried out in May 2015, has been further delayed.

PHCB includes collection of data on the number of people living in the country at a particular point of time, employment, health, language, age groups and education, among others.

With the first PHCB done in 2005, the once in a decade census was due in 2015 but it could not be done because of a lack of budget although preparations were carried out a year earlier with high level of sensitization programs for the PHCB to take place the following year.

The new dates were set for May 2016 after Nu 200 million was set aside for the census and Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay issued an order to carry out the PHCB.

Pre-census activities were carried out and identification stickers stuck on doors of households for reference. The results were to be announced on 2017. But the census was again postponed.

National Statistics Bureau officials refused to clarify and provide information on the delay stating that they’ll inform the whole country at a go whenever they are ready to conduct the Population and Housing Census.

Gasa National Council Member, Sangay Khandu, expressed concerns regarding the yearly delay. “As we draw up 12th Five Year Plan, accuracy and currency of information will prove crucial to planners and allow more current information,” he said. “The question is will such lapse compromise our plans?”

He said that a draft Statistical Bill has been pending for few years now and is yet to be introduced in the parliament. “The Statistical Bill would have kept such unpredictability or irregularity at bay by empowering the statistical authority in the country (NSB) and avoiding anomalies that have risen in the past,” Sangay Khandu said.

Most agencies carry out their own surveys and in the past some of the agencies were accused of manipulation and duplication of statistical data to befit their need and present false information. The draft bill states that the activities carried out by NSB are very important in meeting the growing demands for evidence-based policy decisions, and result oriented planning in the government. There were questions being raised on the multiplicity of sources of information, application of standard methodologies, concepts and definitions in the past surveys.

“The gaps that national surveys and data derived by several agencies can be confusing as well as conflicting at times. The need to have a legally backed statistical authority with effective standards and guidelines has grown more important in such sense,” said NC Sangay Khandu.

The Population and Housing Census of Bhutan in 2005 was the first time ever that such a wide range of collection of official data was carried out through upholding international standards of assessment. The National Statistics Bureau is to conduct the Housing and Population Census after every 10 years.


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