Race data held back

THE Fiji Bureau of Statistics will only release data on ethnicity from the 2017 Fiji Population and Housing Census if it is instructed to do so, says Census commissioner Epeli Waqavonovono after requests from several political parties for the data to be made public.

“What people should be expecting all the time is whatever the bureau releases is what is available,” Mr Waqavonovono said.

He said they collected data on ethnicity during the counting process.

“We did ask about people’s ethnicity, but the decision to release it has to come from higher authority. Once we are instructed then we will release it,” said Mr Waqavonovono.”

Former speaker of parliament Pita Nacuva said every individual had the right to know the results of the census.

“This is where individuals have the right to know. We must be honest with one another. It’s about transparency and my opinion is nothing should be hidden from the public in a democratic system,” he said.

National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad said it was unacceptable that the census data, particularly on the composition of Fiji’s population by ethnicity, was not being released.

He said as the census was a publicly-funded exercise, it was almost criminal that selectively released data was being “drip-fed” to taxpayers who were questioned for almost every facet of private data.

Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry said he would write to the Bureau of Statistics for the release of the data.

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