Bulgarian Statistical Institute Riven by Scandal over 2011Census Data

Society | March 27, 2014, Thursday // 12:20|  views

NSI headquarters in Sofia, photo by bnr.bg

Ivan Balev, head of the Demographic and Social Statistics unit of Bulgaria's National Statistical Institute (NSI), has insisted that the 2011 census was deeply flawed.

Balev, as cited by Darik radio, claimed that the shortcomings of the 2011 census were due to mistakes of census workers and statisticians.

He argued that the 2011 census had been conducted within shortened time-limits and marred by serious flaws in the data collection and control methods.

To illustrate his point, he said that the 2011 census indicated a decrease by 64 000 in the total number of buildings in 10 years despite the construction boom in the pre-crisis years.

Balev insisted that the online data collection option, which had been used by some 40% of the people, had also introduced errors into the report, as well as the addition of the people who were not counted.

He drew attention to the fact that Eurostat had criticized Bulgaria about the statistics on Bulgarians living abroad.

Balev said that Bulgaria's domestic statistics pointed to around 300 000 Bulgarians living abroad permanently, while statistics of other countries indicated a much bigger number.

He declared that a micro-census would help iron out the mistakes.

Balev explained that the 2011 census provided incorrect information about residential buildings, the ethnic structure of the population, religion, and mother tongue.

Meanwhile, the two deputy chairs of NSI, Diyana Yancheva and Sergey Tsvetarski, rejected claims that the 2011 census contained manipulated data.

Yancheva and Tsvetarski admitted that a large-scale survey like the census could not possibly be error-free, adding that they had backed the drafting of a report specifying the errors.

Meanwhile, Desislava Terzieva, Regional Development Minister, claimed that there was no need to conduct inspections in connection with the alleged flaws of the 2011 census data in view of the upcoming European Parliament elections in May.

She informed that the electoral registers were compiled on the basis of data contained in a register of the Civil Registration and Administrative Services unit which was not related to the census data.

On Wednesday, Reneta Indzhova, Director of the National Statistical Institute (NSI), accused the government of exerting pressure over the staff of the NSI through the two deputy directors of the Institute.

She also expressed worries that her removal from the post was being prepared.

Indzhova suggested that her two deputies were constantly advising government representatives on whether statistics were too high or too low, adding that it was an unacceptable practice for a statistical agency.

Indzhova declared that Yancheva and Tsvetarski were political appointments.

She called for a micro-census to remove the flaws of the 2011 census and recommended that the deputy chairs of NSI be appointed By Parliament and not by the government.

Shortly after her statement, Yancheva and Tsvetarski responded to the accusations with a joint open letter saying that their director was a political appointment of center-right party GERB (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria).

Indzhova was appointed NSI Director in 2012, according to reports of mediapool.bg.

NSI made headlines recently due to a critical report arguing that the 2011 nationwide census had artificially increased Bulgaria's population by around 200 000, the statistics on the ethnic and religious belonging had been manipulated, and that a number of illegal questions had been included in the census cards.

Sergey Tsvetarski was appointed deputy chair of NSI in August 2013 by the current socialist-led coalition government.

His predecessor, Tsvetan Nanov, was dismissed due to violations of public procurement rules.

Diyana Yancheva was appointed deputy chair of NSI in 2012 by the center-right GERB government.

Both Yancheva and Tsvetarski opposed the sharp criticism leveled against the 2011 census.

They accused Indzhova of pursing personal goals through the step, adding that her term in office expired in April.

The two deputy chairs of NSI dismissed the report on the 2011 census as unprofessional, stressing that it had not been drafted by a wide range of experts and had not been subject to comprehensive public discussion.

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Tags: Socialist-led government, Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, GERB government, reneta indzhova, Regional Development Minister, European Parliament elections, census, NSI, National Statistical Institute, eurostat


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