Last year, during the release of the preliminary results of the 2012 Census at the then International Conference Centre (ICC), Benjamin had told reporters that the final report would be released in the second quarter of 2015 as there was need for data collected to be further analysed.
In June of 2014, after 18 months of analysing data collected during the 2012 Census, the Bureau released what it said were preliminary results. This included the fact that Guyana’s population had fallen from 751,223 in 2002 to 747,884; a decline of 3,339.
The preliminary results also revealed that the population of Region 6 had declined significantly – from 123,695 in 2002 to 109,431. The Bureau also released information in changes in population density and the male-female ratio.
It was, however, devoid of updated numbers on unemployment, underemployment, education or Guyana’s race-ratio.
Benjamin did not return calls made to him on Thursday afternoon, but the Finance Minister was available to provide an update. Jordon told Demerara Waves Online News that Benjamin now says that the final report will be released in the first quarter of 2016.
“I made this comment in Parliament already. I said…by the time the census comes out the information will be useless,” he exclaimed. According to the minister, Benjamin outlined several challenges which have stalled work on processing the 2012 census results.
“…they have challenges at the stats bureau. The essential challenge was staff and pieces of equipment to get the analysis done.” These challenges are apparently in the process of being remedied though, as Jordon shared that the Bureau is “about to overcome those challenges.”
Jordon further said that he has suggested to Benjamin that he hold a briefing with members of the press so that they, and by extension the wider public, can be updated.
Incidentally, a few hours after Jordon spoke with this media outlet, the Bureau released a press statement on the stalled final report of the 2015 Census. In the release the Bureau acknowledges that it’s “self imposed time frame for completion of the detailed Census analysis could not be met.”
It nevertheless noted that the Bureau is “still within its three (3) year self-imposed time frame since Census day 2012, and are in the process of finalising our data dissemination plan to respond to the most frequently demanded set of data demanded such as the ethnic composition of the nation…agre structure, the quantum components of the foreign-born population, the gender distribution of the population, and the economic activity and Labour Force of the population.”
Finally, the Bureau quotes Benjamin as saying that while he is aware that the national interest in engendered in the results of a Population and Housing Census, “in the face of considerable challenges the Bureau opted for accuracy and credibility over the pressures of time.”
With Budget 2015 to be debated in a matter of months, it is certain that government will not have the benefit of the census report to tailor spending in a detailed enough fashion to meet the needs of Guyanese as accurately as it could have. Demerara Waves Online News also understands that the lack of a final report is holding up the commencement of various development projects conceptualised by non-governmental groups.
2016 constitutes approximately four (4) year since the last census was conducted. The inability of the Bureau of Statistics to produce a final report to this date calls into question whether the former administration provided the necessary resources; equipment and otherwise, for the body to execute this mandate.
The next census will be conducted in 2022, six (6) years after the final report of the 2012 Census is set to be released.