Some foreign nationals working in Vientiane have said that people living illegally in Laos will disappear when the national census begins on March 1.
The knowledge that the census is taking place may make some illegal foreign workers decide to skip town, particularly those from neighbouring countries, who may decide to hide from census staff.
An official from the Lao Statistics Bureau, who asked not to be named, told Vientiane Times on Thursday that all foreigners who have been living and working in Laos for over six months will be included in the census.
“We will not ask foreigners whether they are here legally or illegally,” he said.
The census takers are ethical and will ask questions politely, with all of them adhering to the questions as stated on the form they have been given.
The checking of foreign passports is not part of the census as there is nothing in the list of questions that requires that to be done.
They will be asked about the standard of their accommodation, whether or not it is good, and general questions about the state of their health.
The official said foreigners do not have to worry about the census because it is not the mandate of census staff to find out who is living in Laos legally or otherwise.
“We are carrying out the national census to assess progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, for which this year has been set as the target date. We also want to assess how well we are doing in efforts to eliminate poverty by the target year of 2020,” he added.
The census will run from March 1-7 and will cost about US$7.2 million.
The government will fund 50 percent of the cost and will contribute about 28 billion kip.
The remaining 50 percent will come from the Swiss government, United Nations Population Fund, World Bank, Chinese government and UNICEF.
Officially the Lao population is estimated at 6.4 million, but given that the last census was carried out in 2005, accurate figures will only be known after the results of the 2015 census are made public.
Source: Vientiane Times