Census flop probed

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THE National Statistical Office has been instructed to explain to Cabinet why the 2011 national census failed, and how the office plans to execute the same exercise more expeditiously.
Planning and Monitoring Minister Richard Maru told The National last night that he had given the office until next Friday to submit the report to him.
It follow the revelation by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in Parliament on Tuesday that no one knows the exact population of PNG today because there has been no national census since 2000.
The national census is supposed to be conducted every 10 years.
But the one done in 2011 failed to produce the outcome expected.
Maru told national statistician Roko Koloma and his team last Friday to explain why the last census “was considered a failure in terms of the amount of the time we took, the accuracy of data, and how could we make sure the next one comes out on time and is accurate”.
Maru said he expected from the NSO “a clear plan, a grand chart, what resources are needed and how will they do much better than last time and deliver a successful census”.
He said the NSO would put together a submission to Cabinet as regards what went wrong with the 2011 census.
“Basically, the lessons that we have learnt from the previous one and the government can do to assist,” Maru said.
“I told them that we are not going to fail under my watch.”
Maru said he hated last-minute arrangements such as what happened with the common roll in the recent general election.
“The common roll was released a month before the election without even being reviewed. We can’t make the same mistake with the national census,” he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel told The National last night that they tried to fix the census in 2012.
“We came into office in 2012 with me as the planning minister. I had to address the census situation,” Abel said.
“I spent quite a lot of time to get that information completed and published.
“We did that quite late, and out of date, but that was quite a task we had to do to complete unfinished business at national planning.
“At that time, the population came out as 7.3 million, according to the 2011 census. So the census figures were completed.
“I think what the prime minister is saying is how accurate are some of those information.”