Flood tax only after coalition agrees

Published: October 5, 2010

Pakistan is facing pressure to raise money to pay for post-flood rehabilitation. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: Sindh decided in principle to levy a one-time tax, called the flood surcharge, in addition to the present taxes, during a high-level meeting presided over by President Asif Ali Zardari here on Monday. However, the move will not go through till all coalition partners, more specifically the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), are on board.

The purpose of the tax is said to be to provide money for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the flood-hit districts of the province.

It was decided that Flood Surcharge will be collected on agricultural land, registration of vehicles with 1300 cc or heavier engines, arms licenses and houses larger than 500 yards. The meeting was held at Bilawal House and it was attended by Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and key members of his cabinet as well as other officials.

Talking to journalists after the meeting, Dr Kaiser Bengali, advisor to the CM, said that the final approval for the implementation of the Flood Surcharge will be taken by the Sindh cabinet after consultations with coalition parties.

However, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has, on its part, protested that it was not taken into confidence regarding the imposition of the new tax.

Sindh Health Minister Dr Sagheer Ahmed in his meeting with the president expressed reservations on behalf of his party, MQM, regarding the imposing of a tax without taking them on board. He further complained to the president that when the MQM suggests a solution to any issue it is not valued by the PPP-led government.

The president has directed the CM to hold a separate meeting with the MQM to resolve differences and overcome reservations. “Soon there will be a meeting with CM to discuss the implications of flood tax. The president has not given approval of flood tax unless our doubts are cleared,” claimed Syed Faisal Subzwari, deputy parliamentary leader of the MQM in Sindh Assembly.

He further added that why the tax was being imposed on people who already came under the tax net why not the super elite class. “Initially it was announced by the president that the people on the left bank would also come under the tax net but later it was withdrawn. Our argument is that the non-taxed sector should come under this proposed tax net,” Subzwari added.

The president was also briefed in detail regarding the losses suffered by Sindh.

The Sindh Health Minister Dr Sagheer Ahmed talking to the media outside Bilawal house after his meeting with the president said that the health department had suffered the most. “We discussed the rehabilitation and losses suffered by the health department. Around 165 Basic Health Units (BHUs) were damaged while 105 need to be totally rebuilt. We informed the president that Rs3.6 billion is needed to rehabilitate the BHUs,” Ahmed revealed.

The Minister for works and services Manzoor Wassan informed the president that 4,060 kilometers of roads in districts were damaged while 1,925 kms of inter-provincial roads were severely damaged. “Communication is very essential to carry out rehabilitation work. Around Rs17 billion are needed to repair and reconstruct these roads,” Wassan said.

Dr Bengali summarized the overall situation in terms of losses in and revealed that Sindh suffered around Rs450 billion in losses. Of this, Rs102 billion was suffered due to agriculture. He further informed that 2,243,000 acres of land was inundated while Rabi crop production was nearly impossible. However, he informed the president that a Rabi plan is being prepared by agriculture department to at least produce a major chunk in the season.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2010.

Reader Comments (9)

  • Abdullah Imam
    Oct 5, 2010 - 10:05AM

    This is unjust tax, how can middle class people who worked for all of his life and build his dream home in 500 or 600 yards and he or his children has to pay these stupid tax.

    If Government really need flood tax than these can be criteria;
    – Person has more than one house or Agri or Commercial land of more than 1000 yards each and his / her monthly income is more than 10,00,000.00.
    – Or Person living in house more than 1000 yards and his / her monthly income is more than 25,00,000.00.
    – Or Person living in house more than 1000 yards, has more than one car of 1300 CC (2000 onward)and his / her monthly income is more than 15,00,000.00.
    – All politicians live in more than 1000 yard house. Recommend

  • Oct 5, 2010 - 10:08AM

    Flood tax is, after all, a lot easier than expanding the tax base, collecting from retailers, taking a hard policy stand on agricultural tax or asking Mr. Prime Minister how he manages to make no taxable income…
    http://www.borderlinegreen.com/2010/10/05/and-now-flood-tax/Recommend

  • Yasir Hasan
    Oct 5, 2010 - 10:48AM

    This is all crap… Zardari and his fellow Jageerdaars (feudal lords) need to come out and pay back something to the community for a change. Recommend

  • Farrukh
    Oct 5, 2010 - 11:05AM

    The critera sounds acceptable for the citizens living in Karachi as wrote by Abdullah Immam. Nice to see the great article but one shoould start from the President house.Recommend

  • Yasir Hasan
    Oct 5, 2010 - 11:40AM

    Exactly Farrukh, my pointRecommend

  • Shani Syed
    Oct 5, 2010 - 5:17PM

    My heart is filled with tear and my blood pressure is rising to think where are they takin our beloved home land are we all blind???? Tax what tax???
    Why not for starters tax the Bilawal house, the PM house Zardari house Naudero house Larkana Surrey palace french chatteue and london appartment and God knows how many first for the all the years it has been there not paying taxes that outta give you some amount, no way bloody hell these taxes are just a source to fill the greedy govt who could not cash as much as they wanted to during flood as no one trusts them and a clear sign they are planning to loot n run real soon so loot as much as you can gather… I can swear over any thing this money shall never reachthe effected just end up in their own pockets

    It is the word of Allah that “Only the sand of grave can fill their greedy mouths”

    Cmon MQM show the awam you are truly a party of the middle class fight for it show us if you can do something about it so we can think of voting you.

    God guide the CJ to ask the Army to hold these corrupt people serve them justice in their own platters esp those who have broken dams just to save their land and let the others be drowned on purpose and hold free and fair ellection under the army with Supreme Court being the Supervising body…

    God help our country against such corruption and make us do good deeds and guide us so we have better hukumran governing us AmeenRecommend

  • Asim
    Oct 6, 2010 - 12:44AM

    Firstly, i think the tax should be payable by all the citizens of Pakistan and not payable only in Sindh, making Karachi people and businesses pay for the whole of Pakistan.
    Seconldy, I think the Govt should start with the super rich having more than 2 houses and having expensive bigger engine cars.
    However, having said that we cannot make the Government Accountable for the taxes already taken which can be seen with excessive amount of Ministries and expensive German cars like Mercedes with politicians. Therefore, first start with them and then the land owners, then the Industrialists and then business.

    Key thing is that the whole nation needs to pay and not only Karachi.Recommend

  • Umar Farooq
    Oct 6, 2010 - 3:02PM

    Since when is it fair to impose a tax on only a single province. Didnt the flood affect virtually every province to some degree? No country in the world would impose the burden of the whole only onto a single province. Also, instead of simply focusing on taxation, the government needs to start on an austerity drive to set an example. Why should tax payers fund various absurd portfolios in the current cabinet? Why does every politician deserve his own entourage of security funded courtesy of the tax payer? We also need complete disclosure of tax records for all current Govt ministers, MNA’s, and heads of political parties. Recommend

  • Shani Syed
    Oct 6, 2010 - 6:22PM

    I am waiting for MQM’s stand on this…Recommend

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