Bangladesh’s Bureau of Statistics missed the latest October 25-30 schedule for the 2021 population census field survey amid criticism of the bureau’s repeated failure to release the data on time.
Officials said BBS was unable to convince the cabinet committee on government procurement twice in the past three months to approve the purchase of 3.95 lakh of tablet computers for the population census and housing 2021.
The office was unable to conduct the field investigation digitally from October 25-30 due to the delay in purchasing the tabs.
Deputy project director Lizen Shah Nayeem told New Age on Sunday that they had already set a new timeline of December 24-30 for the survey to be completed.
The population and housing census is one of the main tasks of the BBS to determine population size, density, labor force, internal migration, housing and other socio-economic indicators.
The bureau conducted the census once every ten years, the first having taken place in 1974.
The second population census took place in 1981, the third in 1991, the fourth in 2001 and the fifth in 2011.
The sixth demographic survey will miss the usual 10-year interval, Planning Minister MA Mannan told New Age on Sunday.
In October 2019, the government approved the 2021 Population Census Project with an estimated cost of Tk 1,761 crore.
The office originally planned to conduct the investigation Jan. 2-8.
Mannan blamed the Covid pandemic for the delay in implementing the project.
In June, the government revised the project to conduct the survey digitally instead of manually for better results.
The decision also helped the government reduce the cost of the project to Tk 1,557 crore from Tk 1,761 crore.
The decision, however, also made it mandatory for the BSS to purchase the tabs, the planning minister said.
He said he had previously asked the cabinet committee on government procurement to settle BBS’s proposal to buy the tabs without further delay.
“We don’t want to miss the December schedule for the field investigation,” he said.
In August, the BBS submitted the proposal to purchase the 3.95 lakh tabs to the government purchasing committee after completing the formalities of an open tender.
The committee headed by Minister of Finance AHM Mustafa Kamal at its August 25 meeting asked the BBS to renew the purchase of the tabs following a certain condition of the 2008 procurement policy.
The BBS resubmitted the procurement proposal to the committee in the third week of October after completing all the formalities of the tender.
The committee at its October 24 meeting did not approve the BBS proposal for the second time.
Cabinet Division Additional Secretary Md Shamsul Arefin after the meeting told reporters the BBS had withdrawn the proposal.
Sources met, however, said that the BBS technical committee on the tender for the purchase of tabs had selected a supplier on both occasions.
A local company assembling tabs is the other bidder and its devices have been disqualified twice for technical reasons, they said.
Former chief economist of the World Bank’s Dhaka office, Zahid Hussain, said the delay in supplying the BBS was a sad situation.
Population and housing data is always crucial in shaping any plan for public agencies and private groups, he said.
The BBS has previously been criticized for its inability to compile data on breastfeeding mothers in 2020 for which the World Bank withdrew about $ 50 million in loans to provide cash benefits to pregnant women and mothers of children. less than five years old.
The BBS also delayed the production of data on the country’s gross domestic product for the fiscal year 2019-2020 by almost a year.