ISLAMABAD, Sept 7: Faced with losses of around Rs447 billion due to floods, the Sindh government has decided in principle to impose ‘flood tax’ to finance rehabilitation of flood-affected people and rebuilding of damaged infrastructure.
Provincial authorities also fear severe losses in the agriculture sector as water-logging could make sowing for the Rabi season difficult.
The Sindh government has submitted a report to the federal government, highlighting the devastation caused by floods and the financial burden the calamity has put on the provincial government.
The provincial government has informed the federal government of its recovery and rehabilitation plan, aimed at rebuilding affected areas on modern lines.
However, in order to finance the rehabilitation plan a high-level committee of the cabinet will meet in Karachi on Wednesday (today) to discuss options for imposing the ‘flood tax’.
Finance Adviser to Sindh Chief Minister Dr Kaiser Bengali told journalists here on Tuesday that the new tax would not be imposed on the poor.
“The situation is more serious in Sindh as water is not receding quickly from most areas because of high flood in the Indus and high tide in the sea,” he said.
Dr Bengali said that because of water-logging in fields farmers would not be able to plant Rabi crops in about 50 per cent of the cultivable areas during the upcoming season.
It had been decided that the cost of rehabilitation would be borne by the province and the federal government on a 50-50 basis, he said.
Mr Bengali said that Sindh had been severely affected by floods with the worst displacement the province had ever seen in its history.
Socio-economic infrastructure in eight districts — Kashmore, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Shahdadkot, Larkana, Dadu, Jamshoro and Thatta — has been severely damaged.
He said the province was faced with short-term, mid-term and immediate problems because the provincial government was taking care of more than 1.3 million people living in camps and more than 100,000 were outside camps.
The mid-term and short-term rehabilitation work includes restoring health and education system besides reconstruction of key connecting roads.
Dr Kaiser Bengali said that over 7,274 villages and 43 towns had been submerged, over 2.2 million acres of crop land was under water while over 300 rice and other mills had been damaged.
He said initial estimates suggested that the total loss in the province by floods was Rs446.88 billion with Rs122.1 billion in agriculture sector and Rs2.6 billion in the health sector as 100 health centres had been damaged.
The loss to the education system is around Rs26.9 billion and the Sindh government is planning to include private sector in rebuilding works.