Johnson: Natl. census delayed until next year

Johnson: Natl. census delayed until next year

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The 2020 national census has been postponed until next year when the Cabinet will finalize the timeframe of the exercise, Acting Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson said yesterday.

“Obviously it did not happen due to this COVID situation and no definite timeframe has been set as yet for consideration by Cabinet,” Johnson told Eyewitness News.

“It will happen, but it is just a matter of finalizing the timeframe.”

He continued: “It’s a much more involved survey process and there needs to be sort of a definition because it’s geographically based and everything.

“So, there is a little bit more rigor that’s involved in a census, which requires a bit more attention.

“There are other ways to do it, but even that requires you have to be able to ascertain that a person lives where they live and that it’s in the same area because again, that is part of the demarcation of the census — to not only get the information, but to get the geographic location of the person as well.”

Asked whether there was a date the survey has to be completed in order to form the baseline of other surveys, Johnson said the census will not impact the production of other surveys.

He explained that statisticians can use projections on which to base surveys.

“There is no statutory requirement that prevents an extension,” he said.

“The overriding objective is to get it done as soon as possible, but of course the circumstances have to allow it to happen.

“And we are looking for some possibilities, but as I said, nothing definitive has been decided as yet.”

The 2020 census was slated to begin in September, with officials projected to cap costs at around $5 million.

In July, Johnson said the exercise was postponed until further notice due to the pandemic and the need to pre-test along with numerous other considerations.

He was also asked whether the census could be carried out remotely or via telephone, similarly to the Labour Force Survey,

But the acting financial secretary explained that the nature of the census and the depth of its surveying requires more.

In February, the Ministry of Finance announced 40 workers had started pre-test training with the questions that will be included in the new census.

At the time, officials said the official census pre-test would be launched on New Providence and Grand Bahama in March ahead of the official country-wide census in September.

In March, Johnson told the media the Department of Statistics planned to hire 1,700 people for the exercise and around $150,000 would be spent on a system that will digitize the survey, reducing the time lag between data collection and data analysis.