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Search begins for new chief statistician

ISLAMABAD: Federal Planning and Statistics Minister Khusro Bakhtyar has on Tueday directed Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to start the process for appointing a new chief statistician as the post has been lying vacant for the last one year.

The minister was chairing the 16th meeting of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), where he was briefed by Secretary Statistics Division Dr Shaista Sohail on number of issues releated to the department.

Bakhtyar directed PBS to expedite the process of appointing chief statistician and fill the vacant posts of two PBS members. He also said that remaining vacant positions of bureau should not be filled automatically but rather based on a needs assessment.

The PML-N government had appointed a former bureaucrat Asif Bajwa as the chief statistician of the newly established PBS. After the completion of his tenure in July 2017, he was reappointed as consultant for another six months which also expired on Jan 4, 2018 and since then the post has been vacant. Five functional members to assist the chief statistician also have to be appointed by the government. Currently, only three members are working while the other two posts are empty.

An official source told Dawn that the delay in the appointment of chief statistician was due to the non-finalisation of rules. “The PBS has yet to frame the rules despite a lapse of seven years”, the official said.

According to the same source, the minister has also directed the PBS to speed up the finalisation of rules.

An official statement issued after the meeting said that Bakhtyar has underlined the need for devising a strategy for automation of data collection in order to have authentic economic statistics for better policymaking.

He emphasised that PBS devise a mechanism for delivering more reliable official figures relating to economy, population, agriculture, trade etc. The minister also called for including ‘disabled’ column in Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement questionnaire to develop disability estimates at the district level to help government devise policy for betterment of handicapped persons.

Bakhtyar also directed the council to convene initially a monthly meeting initially, and later quarterly, in order to clear the backlog and ensure smooth functioning of the organisation

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