Census Now Oct 24 – Nov 7 -As President Weah Signs Bill

MONROVIA – After a protracted period of controversies surrounding the conduct of the National Housing and Population Census, the government has announced that the exercise will now take place between October 24 to November 7, 2022 throughout the country after President George Manneh Weah on Wednesday, September 14, 2022 signed into law the Joint Resolution of the National Legislature for the project to take place.

The joint resolution is the outcome of a special session of the national legislature requested by President Weah to take a decision on setting a new date for the census which will be realistic with the plan put in place and the ensuing 2023 elections where new electoral districts are expected to be created based on the outcome of the census.

It can be recalled that when uncertainties enveloped the fate of this very important aspect in development planning, the national steering committee of the project wrote an urgent communication to the President alerting him the consequences if the census was not conducted this year and go with the rumored timetable of March 2023 which was said to have been agreed upon by the members of the national legislature.

In a communication to President George Manneh Weah, the Census Steering Committee Meeting that includes the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Development Partners, LISGIS, United Nations, and civil society organizations, said it considered the possibility of further postponement from October 2022 would have far-reaching consequences for the census project.

According to the Committee, if the census is postponed to March 2023, the obligatory payments to census staff would be US$695,500, while cost would significantly reduce to US$139,100 if it were conducted October 2022; and if conducted in December 2022, the cost would be US$278,200.

The Committee also told President Weah that were the Census to be postponed, the Ghana-donated tablets and accessories which are to be returned at the end of October 2022 would be the responsibility of the Government at the cost of US$5,355,000.

The delay associated with the long procurement lead time would also constrain census implementation,” the Census Committee further told the Liberian leader, adding: “Financial commitments by donors may not be fulfilled if the census is not conducted in October. The balance ofUS$759,255 will not be disbursed as the agreement on the Census project ends in December 2022. This would necessitate additional resources to fill the budget gap, which would be challenging under the current global economic uncertainties.”

The Committee also made it known to President Weah that beyond the October date for the Census, the Government of Liberia would have to identify new donors to close the current US$2,000,000 gap, something it says will be constraining, if census enumeration is not conducted in October 2022.

“In view of the above considerations, US$8,809,000.00 would be lost if the Census is postponed,” said the Census Committee, informing the President that Liberia’s “current donor partners may also find it difficult to bridge this gap, if the census is held beyond October, which would jeopardize its conduct”.

The communication signed by the UN Resident Representative, Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, and Representatives of the World Bank, Irish Aid, USAID, Irish Aid and Sweden amongst others, lectured President Weah that “the Census is a legacy project for the Government of Liberia, and its conduct will be a significant achievement for the citizens of Liberia.”

“If conducted in October 2022, the census will be a milestone for Liberia to celebrate as it would: a) provide the much-needed reliable data for development planning, b) enable measurement of progress on national development, and c) inform the world in November 2022 of Liberia’s contribution to the global population of eight billion,” the Committee said further.

The census will be the fifth of all censuses conducted in the country and the first fully digital census to be conducted since Independence. The first was conducted in 1962 which came up with the figure of 1.1 million people, the second was in 1974 with the population reported at 1.5 million, while the third and fourth came in 1984 and 2008 with 2.1 million and 3.5 million reported respectively.

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