Census in Bosnia and Herzegovina is fundamental for planning and development

Accurate, reliable and objective statistical data are essential for governance in any country. They are key for the further development of Bosnia and Herzegovina and represent an important element in its process of European integration. In order for BiH to be able to complete the Questionnaire when applying for EU membership, it will need accurate and precise statistical data which will allow the European Commission to assess on the basis of relevant economic indicators, whether Bosnia and Herzegovina meets the requirements of the SAA and the Copenhagen economic accession criteria.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is the only country in Europe that has not conducted a census for more than 20 years. The last census was conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1991, according to which 4,377,033 people in 1,207,000 families lived in BiH. The Law on Census in BiH, adopted on February 2012, is in line with the EU acquis and best practices with decentralized member states in terms of the division of tasks between the Agency for Statistics of BiH and entity institutions responsible for statistical data.

Besides the number of residents, BH will finally have at its disposal accurate data on its population by age, sex and education; the Census will determine other parameters required for the formation of educational, economic, social and other development strategies. Finally, it will be possible to calculate precisely the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, instead according to data older than 20 years and after massive migration of population, as it is the case in BiH since 1992. Planning of infrastructure projects will be based on population density, structure and increasing needs of the population, identification of the population living below the poverty line will be enabled and in general – the socio- economic landmarks necessary for the planning and development of social programs in accordance with the real needs will be available after the census. In short, we’ll know how many cars per capita we drive – knowing that fact may end up explaining the traffic delays, but it will also get us to the EU quicker.

Upon the recommendation of EUROSTAT’s Director and the International Monitoring Operation (IMO), the Census in BiH was postponed for six months so that Bosnia and Herzegovina has the opportunity to make full technical preparations and deal with problems that arose in late 2012 including cartography. The Pilot Census showed that there are flaws in the questionnaire, but also in the mechanisms of coordination and decision-making. The Amendment to the Law on Census, which refers to the new date for the Census, from 1 to 15 October 2013, is in urgent procedure in the BiH Parliament and it will provide time necessary for acceptance of recommendations that IMO gave in its report on the Pilot Census.

Key deficiencies in the Pilot Census were in the system of coordination which requires renewal and clearer expression of political will in the implementation of the Census with the aim of strengthening the necessary and effective system of coordination and decision-making. The IMO also pointed out: the need to redefine the individual issues in the questionnaire, accordingly, to supplement the Manual for enumerators with clearer instructions and supplemented with practical examples, to give clear instructions to citizens who are currently living abroad, better cartographic preparation, providing strong logistical capacity and development of a system for monitoring and controlling the Census process.

The European Union has given strong support for the Census in BiH by providing technical and advisory assistance worth 4.5 million EUR through IPA funds, providing IT equipment in full, hardware and software, monitoring processes and other technical aspects of the Census. Bosnia and Herzegovina has foreseen a total of 42,625,603 BAM to perform the preparatory activities in 2012 and further to the final results of the census planned for 2015.

In the approval process in Brussels /Luxembourg is the additional amount of 7.7 million EUR which would be used for financing costs on the field (enumerators, instructors and controllers).

Furthermore, the Law on Census BiH envisages a fine of 100 to 10,000 BAM for refusing to provide the information, providing incomplete or inaccurate data or, in the case of an enumerator, a guiding to declare religious, national or ethnic affiliation, for untimely performance of the Census, and failure to keep all data obtained from the census as official.

In this regard, the census is a civic duty, but also a ten-minute job that can provide better planned, more secure, certain and prosperous future and a smoother path to the EU for BiH citizens.