ISLAMABAD: The World Bank has approved a project to assist the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to rebase the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as well as the planned population and agricultural censuses.

Both the surveys will be carried out during 2016. While the population census will be carried out by the Population Census Organisation of the PBS, the agricultural census will be carried with the support of United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The last population census was held in 1998.

The Agricultural Census Organisation (ACO) conducted four agriculture censuses each in the years of 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010 and three livestock censuses each in 1986, 1996, 2006 and four agriculture machinery censuses each in 1974, 1984, 1994, and 2004 till to-date. In addition, eight mouza (village) censuses each in the years of 1970, 1979, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2008 had been conducted by the ACO in the overall statistical framework under Statistics Division.

According to details made available by the World Bank, the project will entail developing custom software solutions, providing additional equipment to support interviewers together with technical support with software and hardware issues that may arise. The total cost of the project is $0.14 million, approved by the bank this week.

Additionally, the bank will assist the bureau in improving the sampling for the Household Integrated Economic Survey (HIES), implementation of HIES of Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement (PSML), and the implementation of Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) or face-to-face surveys to collect price data.

PBS has indicated to the World Bank that it would like to pursue on open source solution based on Open Data Kit (ODK).

Funds from the Trust Fund for Statistical Capacity Building will fund international consultants who are experts in CPI rebasing, sampling and support the development of software based on ODK that can promote the use of CAPI, the implementation of price pilot and ongoing technical support.

The output will be new samples for the surveys and censuses, the rebased CPI, custom CAPI software and a price pilot using CAPI.

PBS has a long history of producing a number of surveys of good quality. The challenge they face now is that their systems for data management as well as for the implementation of surveys has become quite outdated and it has been over 25 years since any serious capacity building effort has been undertaken.

There is also a much greater need for timely and sufficiently disaggregated data to support the effort to ensure equitable access to key services after decentralisation. This grant is a small beginning towards the much larger effort required.

Monitoring and tracking progress on well-being, whether for the poorest or for the bottom of the distribution, requires reliable high quality and relevant data. This is explicitly stated as an objective in the Country Partnership Strategy for Pakistan covering 2015-19.

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