Steps urged to exclude foreigners from census

ISLAMABAD: The Senate’s Standing Committee on Finance noted on Wednesday that there was no defined mechanism to exclude foreigners living in Pakistan, including Afghan nationals, from the coming national housing census.

The committee will convene a separate meeting to discuss ways to prevent the counting of foreigners in the census.

Saleem Mandivwalla, the committee’s chairman, decided to seek input of the Ministry of Interior, Election Commission of Pakistan, the National Database and Registration Authority and the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions on the issue to ensure that the census is credible.

Asif Bajwa, chief statistician, informed the committee that the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) had discussed the matter with the chief minister and chief secretary of Balochistan. He said anyone found guilty of wrong verification of a household would be jailed for six months.

Meanwhile, PBS officials told reporters after the meeting that security arrangements had not yet been finalised for the census scheduled to begin on March 28.

Officials say lack of security arrangements may delay the work

The bureau has sought help of the armed forces to ensure the safety of survey staff, but the request has not garnered a response yet.

The officials said that if the security apparatus was not finalised, the census might be delayed.

Incidentally, a major part of the Rs14 billion allocated for the survey will be used for security arrangements.

During the meeting, senators Kamal Ali Agha and Fateh Muhammd Hassani said distribution of resources from the National Finance Commission should be made on the basis of the next census.

The meeting also discussed the payment of Rs480bn made by the government to power producers to clear the circular debt, terming it an illegal step.

“This payment is illegal because procedure was not followed,” Senator Agha said.

Senator Mohsin Aziz concurred that the finance ministry had made illegal payments.

The chairman asked the Auditor-General of Pakistan, Rana Asad Amin: “What was the urgency to clear the payment through a letter during the last days of the fiscal year, soon after the present government came into power?”

Mr Amin defended the payment, saying nothing had been done in violation of the laws and Constitution. He informed the committee that the payments had been audited.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2016

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