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News 11 Mar 16

Squabbles Over Data Put Bosnian Census at Risk

Bosnia's first postwar census risks being declared null if the country's three statistical agencies cannot resolve their differences on how to treat the data.

Rodolfo Toe
BIRN
Sarajevo
The logo for 2013 Bosnian census | Photo: Popis 2013

Members of the three statistical agencies of Bosnia, the state agency and those of the two entities, have been unable to agree on the methodology to elaborate the results of the coungtry's first post-war census, raising fears that publication might not be possible by the July 1 legal deadline.

Fadil Fatic, deputy director of the state statistical agency, told N1 television on Thursday that the three sides had not changed their positions but another meeting is scheduled for Monday.

"If by Monday we don't reach an agreement, some other institutions with greater influence should solve this situation," Fatic said.

"The best option would be...to charge the international monitoring team from Eurostat to complete the work," he noted, adding that "it would be a pity to waste 50 million marks [25.5 million euros]", referring to the total sum spent on holding the census back in 2013.

The Central Census Bureau, which groups members of the three statistical agencies, discussed for four hours on Wednesday, seeking a compromise to end the impasse that has impeded publication of the results.

As Balkan Insight reported in the past, the statistical agencies cannot agree on the criteria to be used to calculate the number of Bosnian residents.

The statistic bureau of Republika Srpska, the majority-Serb entity, insists on determining residence by place of work or education. According to Fatic, this is contrary to Article 7 of the Law on the Census, which states that persons who were absent or plan to be absent for less than 12 months should be considered "temporarily absent" and included as residents.

Early in February, members of Eurostat had a meeting with the three statistical agencies where they fixed a roadmap that should be respected to allow publication of the results in June.

However, existing divergences has not been settled as yet.

The Central Census Bureau will now have to approve a document containing the shared methodology before March 15 in order to proceed with publishing the data by July 1, the final deadline set by law.

"If a solution is not found and the results are not published on time, the risk is that the census will be declared null," Adil Osmanovic, Minister for Civil Affairs, warned last week.

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