IN the wake of numerous requests by the public regarding the sale of shopping bags the Ministry of Finance distanced itself from the levies charged by certain shops for the bags because the payment schedules has not been gazetted yet.
According to a statement issued by the Minister of Finance, Mr. Calle Schlettwein, certain businesses took it upon their selves to charge for shopping bags after the tabling of the 2019/2020 National budget during March this year.
“Although the ministry welcomes the initiatives by business outlets to curb the pollution of the environment, we wish to inform the nation that the money that is currently being charged by retailers is not yet part of the plastic levy that government has proposed as the levy has not yet been gazetted. It means the money that customers pay for the plastic bags, forms part of the individual business’ income.”
Exception is given to Pupkewitz Megabuild and its subsidiary, Kaap Agri Namibia, which voluntarily introduced the Break-Free-from-Plastic Campaign in December 2018 where they charge 50 cents per plastic bag and handing the quarterly proceeds totalling N$60 000 so far over to the Environmental Investment Fund (EIF).
According to Schlettwein the company committed to donating money to the EIF until Schedule 1 of the Customs and Excise Act has been amended.
“The decision was taken by Cabinet to impose the environmental levy on plastic bags of which the proceeds should be channelled to EIF for re-investment in improved waste management practices. The implementation of this levy will be done through the Customs and Excise Act No 20 of 1998, which is administered by the Ministry of Finance.”
According to the statement the same Act was used to impose levies on on carbon dioxide emissions, tires and incandescent bulbs.
“The Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and the EIF have been working on modalities on the income consolidation policy to facilitate the effectiveness of the levies.
According to the minister’s statement the process of amendments to the Act has been completed and that it will be gazetted on 1 August 2019. The new levies will be in operation after it is tabled in the National Assembly.
“The nation will be informed once the entire process has been finalised. In the meantime we wish to reiterate our position that charges that shops have begun to charge their customers are not part of the environmental levies,” Schlettwein concluded.