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Country Profile of Sri Lanka

Main statistical agency
Main statistical agency name
Department of Census and Statistics (DCS)
Web address
Position in the government
Department reports to the Ministry of Interior.
Organizational structure and finance
The DCS is organized with centrally located headquarter (technical) divisions, an island wide net work of field offices with field officers attached to district secretariats and divisional offices, and a host of branch offices in some important ministries and departments. The DCS is administered by a Director General.

Technical and service divisions
The activities undertaken by the DCS are grouped and organised under 18 technical and service divisions at present. These divisions are being headed by a director or deputy director with a number of professional staff attached to each of the divisions depending on the workload. These divisions are responsible for undertaking censuses and surveys, compilation of indicators and collection of various other information relating to the subjects assigned to them. The divisions that have been established and the subjects assigned to them are listed below.
Division 1-Demography and Social Statistics Division
Division 2-Industry and Construction Statistics Division
Division 3-Agriculture and Environmental Statistics Division
Division 4-National Accounts Division
Division 5-Publications Division
Division 6-Library
Division 7-Data Processing Division
Division 8-Administration
Division 9-Sample Survey Division
Division 10-Printing Division
Division 11-Field Operation Division
Division 12-Training Division
Division 13- Statistical Coordination and Standards Division
Division 14-Census Division
Division 15-Research and Special Studies Division
Division 16-Prices and Wages Division
Division 17-Trade and Services Sector Division
Division 18-Mapping and Cartographic Division
Branch offices
The DCS maintains 54 branch offices at present in various ministries, departments and other government agencies, which are placed in charge of either a Deputy Director, Senior Statistician, Statistician or a Statistical Officer. The statistical personnel in these branch offices are under the immediate administrative control of their respective heads of departments even though they belong to the cadre of the DCS, but continue to receive advice and guidance from the technical divisions of the DCS.

District offices
There are 25 districts statistical offices located in the district secretariats and an office in Galnewa, in the 'H' area, which is considered as a special agricultural district. Each office is placed in-charge of a Deputy Director, Senior Statistician or a Statistician, who is assisted by a team of Statistical Officers, one in each Divisional Secretary's Division (DSD). All statistical activities in the districts and the DSDs are handled by these officers.

Statistical staff in Provincial Councils
The services of statistical personnel have also been given to Provincial Councils through temporary release of staff. This arrangement has ensured better statistical co-ordination, maintenance of statistical standards and rationalisation of staff.
Multi-annual or annual work program
Annual work plan is prepared with the consensus of heads of all divisions of the Department.
Main duties
The DCS functions as the central government agency responsible for the collection, compilation, analysis and dissemination of reliable and timely statistical data relating to population and housing, agriculture, industries, trade and services, national accounts, prices, and other social and economic activities of the country for the purpose of planning, formulation and implementation of development programmes. In order to achieve this, the following subjects and functions have been assigned to the DCS but the scope of these activities has increased very much over time.

1. Conducting socio-economic censuses covering population, housing, agriculture, manufacturing, trade, construction and various other topics depending on the national requirements.
2. Conducting national household, establishment and agricultural surveys on subject areas such as demography, health, labour force, household income and expenditure, nutrition, poverty, industries, trade and services, construction activities, agriculture and other important subject areas of general interest.

3. Collection and compilation of statistics generated through various administrative records such as vital registration forms, customs declarations, embarkation/ disembarkation cards, medical records, police records, prison records etc.

4. Coordination of statistical activities and programmes through the provision of trained staff needed by the ministries, departments, other government agencies and the administration of a network of sub national level statistical offices (in each district) for collection and dissemination of statistics.

5. Providing advisory services for various statistical activities by the technical divisions of DCS to both public and private sector organizations, on survey design, questionnaire preparation, data processing , design of tabulation plans etc.

6. Compilation of primary and secondary statistical indicators such as National Accounts Estimates, Prices Indices, Food Balance Sheet, Volume Index of Agricultural Production etc.

Brief history and other relevant background information
Brief history and other relevant background information
The Department of Census and Statistics (DCS) is an amalgamation of two units, the statistics section and the census section, which functioned separately under the Donoughmore Constitution. The statistics section was part of the former Department of Commerce and Industries. The census section comprised the Census Department which was created on December 1,1944 for the purpose of taking the Census of Population in 1946.

Both these units had been under the control of the Ministry of Labour, Industry and Commerce. With the inauguration of the Soulbury Constitution they were brought under a new department namely the Department of Census, Statistics and Planning which was assigned under the Ministry of Home Affairs, through a gazette notification dated September 29,1947. This department was renamed as the Department of Census and Statistics and assigned to the Ministry of Finance by the gazette notification dated May 18,1948.

The DCS continued to function under the Ministry of Finance till 1970 and thereafter under the Ministry of Planning and Employment until 1977. Since 1977, it was functioning under the Ministry of Policy Planning and Implementation and from 1994 under the Ministry of Finance, Planning, Ethnic affairs and National Integration and thus came under the purview of the President. Then again for a short period, the DCS was functioning under the Ministry of Plan Implementation and was transferred back to the Ministry of Finance and Planning. DCS was functioning under the newly created Ministry of Interior since the beginning of the year 2002. Since 2004, DCS has been functioning under the Ministry of Finance and Planning.

Legal basis
Legal basis
There are two ordinances namely Census Ordinance and Statistics Ordinance under which the DCS collects data through censuses and surveys. They were established in order to secure the reliability and thereby the usefulness of statistics by ensuring the protection of the privacy of the respondents. These ordinances stipulate that statistics which are highly important for policy planning and decision making of the government should be collected by the DCS.

Census Ordinance.
The first legal sanction in Sri Lanka provided under the Census Ordinance was framed in 1868 on the lines of the English law for the conduct of the first Census in 1871. This ordinance was amended in 1880 and repealed in 1900. A new ordinance was drafted thereafter on the lines of the Indian Census Act and was passed by the legislature. The new ordinance include provisions to make the census taking procedure more flexible, the right to have access and to make any marks or numbers to any land, building, vessel or any other place by the census officer for the Purpose of census taking. In the new ordinance the census officer was declared to be a public servant within the meaning of the penal code and the officer in charge of each administrative district was given legal status as Census Commissioner of his district. Legal sanction was also given under the new ordinance for census officers to ask questions relating to census schedule and the respondents were required to answer to the best of their knowledge and belief. Breach of
census rules, abuse of power by a census officer, obstructing an officer in carrying out his duties and similar acts and omissions were made punishable. The Census Ordinance of 1900 substantially remained the basis for census taking in Sri Lanka throughout the years, with minor amendments in 1945, 1955,1980 and 2000, and it covers not only the Census of Population and Housing but also Censuses of Agriculture Industry, Commerce etc. The amendments made in!980 include the provision of legal sanctity for the confidentiality of the information collected at the census. Thus the Census Ordinance
casts an obligation on the part of the respondents to answer all questions asked at a census, and at the same time it safeguards the respondents by causing any information collected at a census, to be inadmissible as evidence in a court of law. The amendments made in 2000 include some changes to suit the present administrative set up in the country and also to increase the penalty.
Statistics Ordinance.
The Statistics Ordinance, which was enacted in 1935, provides for the establishment of an official Bureau of Statistics and for the supply of information thereto. This ordinance was amended in 1955. The Statistics Ordinance provided legal sanction for the Director of Statistics to collect statistical information relating to the socio-economic conditions of the country. There is provision in this ordinance like in the Census Ordinance to safeguard the confidentiality of the information provided by the respondent. The ordinance also prevent the disclosure or arrangement of data, to facilitate the identification of any particulars as being particulars relating to any individual person or business, in any report, summary of statistics or other publications prepared based on the data collected under the Statistics Ordinance.

Other producers of official statistics
Other producers of official statistics
Central Bank Sri Lanka, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Customs Department, Ministry of Labour.

Statistical advisory bodies
Statistical advisory bodies
Depending on the needs user-producer meetings and advisory committees are organized to get expert advice for censuses, surveys and other data collection activities of the Department.

Data collection
Most recent population census
Most recent population census
Census of Population and Housing – 17 July 2001
Access to administrative data
Available to some extent with the respective Ministries. Eg. Registrar Generals Department
Data confidentiality
Individual information taken through surveys and censuses will be kept confidentially.

Data dissemination
Release calendar (existence, when and how published)
On the web.
Main publications
Available on the website, in the following categories:

General purpose publications.

Population and demography.


Trade and Industry.

National accounts.

Prices and Wages.

Survey reports.

Other publications.
Languages of main publications
Sinhala, English, Tamil
How are data disseminated (Paper, CD Rom, Website, online databases, databanks)?
Data are disseminated by website, hardcopies, Compact disks and databases, press releases, press briefings and articles
Availability of microdata for research purposes
Under the Statistical ordinance, micro data cannot be released with identifications for
public use. Procedures are in place to ensure that information relating to any particular
individual person, household or undertaking will be kept strictly confidential and will
not be divulged to external parties. Information on individual or individual
Household/establishment will not be divulged or published in such a form that will
facilitate the identification of any particular person or establishment as the data have
been collected under the Census/Statistical ordinance, according to which the
information at individual level cannot be divulged and such information is strictly
confidential. Therefore, all direct identifiers will be removed (name, address, ID
number, business name, reference number, telephone number etc.) before the release
of the data file. The following rules apply to micro data released by the Department of
Census and Statistics.
• Micro-data is released free of charge. Only the requests of Government
Institutions, Recognized Universities, Students, and selected international
agencies are entertained. However, the Data users are required to strictly adhere to
the terms stipulated in the agreement form.
• All the data requests should be made to Director General (DG) of the DCS as the
sole authority of releasing data is vested with the DG, DCS. DCS of Sri Lanka
reserves sole right to approve or reject any data request made depending on the
confidential nature of the data set and intended purpose of the study or analysis.
• Requests for micro data should be made through the agreement form designed by
DCS for this purpose (Form D.R.1). The agreement form should be filled in
triplicate and the Study/project proposal should accompany the filled agreement
form. If requests are made for the micro data of more than one survey, a separate
agreement should be signed.
• If the data request is from a student a letter from the respective Department
Head/Dean/Supervisor, recommending the issue of data, should also be
• If the request is approved only 25% of the data file is released at the first stage.
The release of the total data file is considered only after reviewing the draft report
prepared on the basis of the 25% sample data file.
• The released Data file should be used only for the specific study/Analysis
mentioned in the agreement form and shall not be used for any other purpose
without the prior approval of the Director General of the DCS. Moreover, Copies
of the micro-data file, obtained from the DCS, shall not be given to anyone else
without the prior written approval of the Director General of the DCS.
• The draft report of the Study/Analysis should be submitted to the DCS and the
concurrence of the DG, DCS, should be obtained before publishing it. Once
published, a copy of the final report should be submitted to the DCS.

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