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Monday Jul 05 2021

PBS to get chief statistician after four years

The office of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).
The office of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

  • PBS to get a chief statistician after four years, summary moved for PM Imran Khan's approval.
  • There are three major contenders for this top MP-1 position, including Naeem Ul Zafar, Malik Allah Baksh Awan and Hashim Populzai.
  • A high-powered committee has interviewed the three candidates.

ISLAMABAD: After facing criticism from the Opposition over official figures and to remove controversies regarding the data, the government has finally decided to appoint a chief statistician at the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

The post has been lying vacant for the last four years since Asif Bajwa retired after completing his tenure.

According to The News, the appointment of a chief statistician has become most important because the government wants to move ahead on holding a fresh population census in the country in 2022, ahead of the next general elections through the use of technology, so its spadework requires an appointment at the top level, which became the top priority of the government.

The Opposition had also blamed the government for fudging the growth numbers to show its performance ahead of the budget 2021-22 when the Economic Survey recorded a near 4% growth. 

Who are the candidates?

There are three major contenders for this top MP-1 position: Naeem Ul Zafar, Malik Allah Baksh Awan and Hashim Populzai.

Zafar, who had served served in the planning commission as a member of the social sector in the past, is at the top of the race at the moment.

A Dr Ishrat Hussain-led committee interviewed the three candidates and now a summary is lying on the table of Prime Minister Imran Khan to get his final nod.

“A panel of candidates has been finalized and a summary forwarded to Prime Minister Imran Khan to seek his approval,” Planning Secretary Hamid Yaqoob confirmed when contacted by The News last week.

Mess at PBS

After getting so-called autonomy one decade back in 2011, the PBS was in a pathetic position as in the last nine years its rules could not be devised. So officers got stuck when they reached a grade 20 position.

The posts of PBS members are also vacant at the moment. Sarwar Gondal, who is a member of services support, also holds the position of resource management (RM) and his tenure is going to be completed on July 17, 2021.

“So far, no advertisement has been given for appointment on two posts, including Members Support Services and Resource Management, because lobbying is underway to get the appointment of Gondal through an extension,” said sources.

The extension under the law and a judgement of the Peshawar High Court cannot be granted until the appointment of the chief statistician.

The post of member of economic statistics is also vacant at the PBS. Ijaz Wasti holds the position of member of national accounts but he never preferred to come out in public to defend the figures produced by National Accounts on account of GDP growth for the last financial year.

Post lying vacant since 2017

The post of chief statistician had fallen vacant on July 4, 2017 when Asif Bajwa completed his tenure after reaching the age of 65 years.

The government had then appointed him as an adviser at PBS to accomplish the task of population census.

Although efforts were made to fill the post, they failed every time, one top official said told the publication.