Slow start to PNG Census

Census material is prepared for distribution in East New Britain on June 16, 2024 ahead of the start of counting. [Census 2024 EBN]

Despite a slow start and the expected initial hiccups to contend with, national statistician John Igitoi is confident that National Census 2024 will be completed successfully. 

“It’s just the start, so we expect to be picking up momentum in counting people during the week,” he said. 

“I don’t think there will be any more issues and I am confident that the census will be done if we all support it.” 

Igitoi said the slow start was expected because conducting such a large-scale event required extensive logistical and financial support. 

He was at his Gereka home in Moresby South Monday with his 25 family members who all spent Sunday night – the official reference night – there. They were waiting for enumerators to record their details. 

There are more than 22,000 enumerators deployed around the country. 

Prime Minister James Marape was among the first people to be counted in Port Moresby. 

He was counted after midnight Monday and urged everyone to participate in the census. 

Igitoi was also aware of complaints from people in Port Moresby and other centres around the country who yesterday were waiting for enumerators to turn up at their homes. 

He assured everyone that officials would come around to their homes to get the information required for the census. 

On Sunday, there was also an altercation between enumerators and security personnel at City Hall. 

Igitoi said it was due to an incorrect list of enumerators’ names and allowances. 

“(But) it has been sorted out,” he said. 

He confirmed that about K70 million (US$18 million) had been used already and K45 million (US$11 million) would be disbursed for operations during the enumeration period from 17 to 30 June. 

Meanwhile, public servants have been given a day-off today to assist in the 2024 National Census awareness campaign and to support the 10-yearly national event. 

Chief Secretary Ivan Pomaleu and Personnel Management Department secretary Taies Sansan in a circular to public servants said: “All public servants nationwide can have an extra day off to assist in the awareness campaign and provide support for the National Census.” 

Public Service Minister Joe Sungi however warned those working as enumerators throughout the two weeks to refrain from asking for allowances as they had already been paid as public servants. 

“Public servants (are) already paid, don’t talk about allowances. 

“Get on with the work, no time for holiday from 17-30 June, suspend all other programmes and activities.” Prime Minister James Marape added: “Message to public servants is to be of service to your country. 

“We are already privileged to be paid by taxpayers’ funds. 

“Instead of asking for allowances, get behind those volunteers who are the ones we will pay for their time.” 

Administrative Services Minister Richard Masere said the counting would also include non-PNG citizens. 

He added that the exercise was expected to start slowly “because we are despatching teams out”. 

On volunteers already complaining about allowances, he said that they would be paid. 

“Video has emerged of people complaining about allowances, please bear with us,” he said. 

“Lists will be sent by the provincial administrators to the census office and everyone will be paid. 

“So please remain calm. 

“The important thing is to organise ourselves and participate as this is an important event, everyone will be paid.” 

It is understood that more than 22,000 volunteers have been engaged nationwide to assist with the National Census. 

Marape added: “We need to have one data base for your Government to plan for your education, health, infrastructure, law and order and economic wellbeing. 

“Key deficiency we have carried with us for so many years is knowing who you are in our country. 

“The last time we had a quality census in my view was the 2000 census, compared to the 2011 census which was not conducted well by a government in transition,” he said.