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Gov’t failing to collect plastic levy

Publishing Date : 25 May, 2015


The government has completely failed to collect plastic levy from local retailers since it was introduced eight years ago and is considering banning the use of plastic bags in the country and introducing alternative packaging of goods, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Elias Magosi has revealed.

Speaking before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) at the Parliament buildings in Gaborone this week, Magosi admitted that the government through the Ministry of Trade and Industry has been sleeping on the job and has not collected the levy as it was expected of them.

“Much as the levy was passed as far back as 2007, the collection aspect of it has not actually happened as expected. It was to be collected by the Ministry of Trade,” Mogosi explained in response to questions posed to him by the PAC panel.

Magosi further explained that the major problem was that when the levy was passed back in 2007, collection logistics were not properly worked out.

The government introduced the levy with an intention to reduce the circulation or use of plastic so so as to save the environment by way of reducing littering. However to date retailers are lining their pockets with monies attained from plastic bags which are supposed to be going into environmental projects at the Ministry and plastics remains a menace and eyesore in some areas around the country. The plastics bags are selling between 35 thebe and 70 thebe in local shops.

However Magosi is of the view that even if the levy was to be collected as according to expectations, the environment would still not be clean of plastic bags.

“We are considering a ban of plastics in the country like other countries have done where plastics have become a menace,” Magosi added.

Back in 2007, when the government introduced the plastic levy, the general thinking was that, the extra charge would discourage people from buying them in large quantities and instead encourage re-using of the product. The levy was to feed the National Environmental Fund and boost conservation programmes in their respective communities.

The PAC has therefore faulted Magosi’s Ministry of failing communities especially those living around the Wildlife areas and Magosi admitted that the Tourism policy which is currently under implementation is in part to blame. He added that the policy is very old and needed to be modernised. It is Magosi’s contention that the policy that is currently under review would come up with a solution to the problem.

The levy followed the introduction of the Plastic Carrier Bags and Flat Bags Specification by the Botswana Bureau of Standards. The law came into force on May 12 and requires shops to use bags of a thickness of not less 24 microns.



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