Thursday, May 6, 2021

Plastic levy running into millions, still uncollected 8 years after inception

The government continues failing to collect the plastic levy charged to consumers by local retailers which has since accumulated into millions of pula. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Elias Magosi said Friday that since the inception of the levy back in 2007, the government has been unable to collect the levy from the local shops despite the local shops demanding payment of plastic bags whenever customers purchase goods.
Magosi told the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Friday that there were no proper plans and arrangements for the collection of the levy, despite plastic bags continuing to be used in the country. He said his Ministry is finding challenges with regards to collecting plastic bags levy and they are working on how best they can address the issue.
Jwaneng/Mabutsane Member of Parliament Shawn Nthaile wanted to know the government position in terms of collecting the plastic bags levy.
“Where are we in terms of the plastic levy being collected? Is the levy being collected and what are your strategies in terms of collecting the levy?” Nthaile asked.
In his response, Magosi said “The status on the plastic bags levy is that; much as the levy was passed as far back in 2007, the collection aspect of it has actually not happened since the inception of the levy as expected.”
“What we have done recently is to engage other stakeholders and reflect to cabinet as well on whether there is the possibility of considering a ban on plastic bags in the country perhaps to follow the footsteps of other countries who have found that plastics are problematic especially in instances where they are not managed.”
Magosi believes that if that could be the solution then there must be an alternative to packaging. Nthaile asked Magosi whether it is logical to continue enriching rich business people at the expense of the tax payers.
“I wouldn’t say that but I am just highlighting on what is happening on the ground. It seems we are not achieving much from the levy, so the only option then will be to consider plastic bag ban,” PS said.
“Are you aware of the committee that was set up to work out the modality of collection of this levy? Where is that committee?” asked Nthaile. Magosi said he was not aware of the committee.
Magosi said when the collection of the levy was birthed; it was the only option available which would result in a cleaner environment. However he revealed that they are now facing the challenge of collecting the levy and plastics continue to pollute the environment.
“What is the challenge in collecting the plastic levy? Already there is the alcohol levy, so why is your Ministry not using the same strategy that they use to collect the alcohol levy? Why are you not able to use the same procedures that are used to collect the alcohol levy?” asked Nthaile.
The Permanent Secretary was unable to answer but instead said the strategy they are proposing going forward is to ban the use of plastic bags.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper