The government on Friday established an autonomous Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) by restructuring the entire national statistics system of the country.
The bureau has been set up after the merger of existing three data collecting agencies: Federal Bureau of Statistics; Population Census Organization; Agriculture Census Organization.
The affairs of the PBS would be supervised by a 10-member governing council, to be headed by the finance minister or the advisor to the prime minister on finance. The members would be appointed for a three-year term.
Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Shaikh, who briefed the media about the establishment of the PBS, announced a 10-member council.
Mr Shaikh appointed Mohsin Hassan Khan, a former IMF employee and Dr Shamshad Akhtar former governor of State Bank as council members.
Most council members hail from Punjab while Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have not been given representation.
Commenting on the composition of the council, the minister said that all members of the council have been appointed on merit.
However, provinces would be given representation in the National Users Council and Provincial Users Councils.
The users council would have an advisory role and would guide the statistical authority to fill in the gaps, if any, in the compilation of statistics.
The current body has more than 3,000 employees across the country. The employees would be given an option to join the PBS on contract or retain their government service, a senior official of the Bureau of Statistics said.
No existing employee of the Statistics Division would be laid off, Federal Secretary Asif Bajwa claimed.
He, however, did not elaborate how two tiers of employment — government and contract — would be retained.
The Finance Minister said that the PBS would be headed by a chief statistician who would be appointed from outside.
“We will soon advertise the post,” the minister said.
“How would PBS be autonomous if it depends on the government for funding?” he was asked. He claimed that it would be an autonomous body, and there would be no government intervention at any stage.
Secretary, Statistics Division, Asif Bajwa, said that salaries of those who would be hired from the private sector and the other expenses of the governing council would be met through selling of statistics to other organisations and the private sector.
“We will generate money by conducting studies,” he said.
The National Assembly passed the General Statistics (Reorganization) Act, 2011 on May 2 and by Senate on May 10 to make it a law.
The purpose of the Act is to produce reliable, authentic, timely and transparent data compatible with the needs of the economy and socio-economic development requirements of the nation.