Authorities begin collecting forms in 2011 population and housing census

The Czech Republic’s 2011 Housing and Population Census has entered its second phase. Friday midnight was the official point of reference on which people are expected to base their answers on, and it was also when on-line forms were made available for people to fill in. Radio Prague spoke to the spokesman for the project, Ondřej Kubala, and asked him how the census has been running over the past few days.

“It’s been going really well so far. In the first two days, we received over one million filled-in forms from people over the internet, so the numbers are very good.”

You originally expected some three million Czechs to fill in their forms on-line. Is that still a realistic estimate or do you think the number will be even higher?

“I guess the final number could be higher, but it’s just an estimate. From what we know, about 30 percent of people chose to fill the forms online, while some 12 percent chose to hand the forms to census workers, and around 58 percent of the population chose to send the forms in by post.”

The Czech Statistical Office has been criticized over several issues, including insufficient numbers of census workers, their erratic visits to households, as well as lack of assistance to members of the Romany minority areas. Have you improved on these issues?

“First of all, let me correct you there. It wasn’t the Czech Statistical Office that was criticized; it was our supplier of census workers, Czech Post that was slammed for not having hired enough workers. We do realize we are responsible for our contractors, but that was really their problem.”

And have they improved?

“They promised some two weeks ago to do something about it, and they have improved a lot. However, we are sill receiving many complaints about their work. But their role in the project is coming to an end, and we will deal with that later. Also, Czech Post said on Friday they had delivered 99 percent of the census forms they were supposed to deliver, so I guess it’s better now.”

Could you please explain again if the census also concerns foreigners, and where can they get their census forms if they don’t have permanent residence in the country?

“There is an obligation to fill in the form for everyone who was in the country at the time of the point of reference, regardless whether they are Czech citizens or foreign visitors. Under Czech law, you have to fill in those forms, and return them to the Czech Statistical Office.

The point of reference was at Friday midnight, and now the second part of the project is underway, which means we are collecting the forms. You can choose between three options of how to send them back – you can do that online, or you can hand them to census workers, or you can mail them to the post box of the Czech Statistical Office.”