In the face of opposition from the Planning Commission, the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics has slashed the proposed budget for the Population and Housing Census2021 by Tk1,738 crore in two phases.
The bureau at first proposed a budget of Tk3,500 crore for the census. However, the planning commission, while scrutinising the proposal, detected irrational expenditures in a number of areas.
As suggested by the Planning Commission, the bureau initially brought down the proposed expenditure to Tk2,225 crore. Even so, the commission was not satisfied with the revised budget, which is why the bureau has now whittled the budget down to Tk1,762 crore.
Officials at the Planning Commission said the size of the expenditure initially proposed by the bureau of statistics was 15 times higher than the amount – Tk237 crore – spent on the last census carried out in 2011.
The commission later formed a committee to determine expenditure in different areas. On the basis of the review of the committee, the statistics bureau has restructured the development project proposal (DPP).
The project will be placed before the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) for final approval at its meeting on Tuesday. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will preside over the meeting at the National Economic Council building in the capital's Sher-e-Bangla Nagar.
Asked about the changes in the revised proposal, Zahidul Hoque Sardar, Director of the Population Census wing of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, told The Business Standard, "Extensive changes have been brought in a number of areas of the project in two phases. As an example, the honoraria of a supervisor and surveyor, earlier set at Tk11 thousand, have been brought down to Tk8,000."
He noted, however, that there is yet scope for raising expenditures through bringing amendments to the project.
Earlier on July 11, Zahidul attributed the brisk escalation in the cost of implementation of the project to the fact that the census is being conducted after 10 years and also owing to a rise in the number of supervisors and surveyors.
According to authoritative sources, in the initial proposal Tk56 crore was fixed for arranging training in different districts. The cost has been slashed to Tk18 crore in the new proposal. Advertisement costs have been brought down to Tk26 crore from Tk73 crore.
The proposed expenditure for internal training has been reduced to Tk147 crore from Tk188 crore. Meanwhile, the cost of printing and binding has been brought down to Tk139 crore, which was previously set at Tk339 crore.
Planning Commission officials have said the Bureau of Statistics has revised a number of irrational expenditures. However, the latest proposal aims at an allocation of Tk4 crore for foreign training for 114 officials.
In the new proposal, the expenditure for survey has been set at Tk977 crore.
The Bureau of Statistics, in its new proposal, has proposed an allocation of Tk1,578.68 from the state coffers. The remaining Tk183 crore has been proposed to be collected from the development partners.
It has been learnt that the United Nations Population Fund is coordinating the arrangement of funds from different development partners.
After the country achieved independence in 1971, the first housing census was conducted in 1973, while the first population census was undertaken in 1974.
In 1981, the population census and housing census were conducted simultaneously. The third, fourth and the fifth population and housing census were conducted in 1991, 2001, and 2011 respectively.