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National census moves forward despite facing budget constraints

Ven Rathavong / Khmer Times Share:
Planning Minister Chhay Than speaks to the media yesterday. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The government is set to conduct its nationwide census in March next year despite facing budgetary constraints.

Speaking after a meeting of the National Census Committee yesterday, Planning Minister Chhay Than said that the government will conduct the census on March 3 at a cost of about $8.5 million.

“This is historic work to understand our people, including population numbers,” Mr Than said, adding that the ministry had planned to spend about $12 million but scaled back to $8.5 million due to budget constraints.

“For this census, there are a lot of people, we will use many people and we will spend much time and there are many questions to be asked, so if the budget is low, we might reduce questions which could affect the census,” Mr Than said.

“We also discussed our funding shortage in the meeting compared to $12 million which was planned,” he said.

The third national census was set for this year but was delayed until March next year because the government was focused on the national election last month. The first census was conducted in 1998 and the second one was completed in 2008.

Mr Than noted that the previous census had assistance from development partners but they decided not to fund the project next year because of Cambodia’s economic growth.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Than expressed concern that the lack of budget could impact the national census, but noted that the amount of budget could change because the Chinese government will likely help.

He said that the committee will discuss more about the budget because the Chinese embassy offered to provide transportation such as cars and other vehicles to serve the operation.

Mr Than said that the census will take about one week to complete, with results due in late 2019 after about 50,000 officials and university students fan out across the country to complete it.

According to Mr Than, the population has increased to about 16 million in recent years from about 13 million in 2008.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng said that questionnaires for the census were improved and updated.

Mr Kheng said that the census will be funded using the national budget without any aid from development partners, except the United Nations Population Fund which provided technical assistance and some funding.

Transparency International executive director Preap Kol said that the lack of budget will affect the quality and scope of the census.

“The census is very important to understand the population and demographics to make plans and policy,” Mr Kol said “When the census faces budget issues, it could affect database collection.”

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