Climate ministry proposes tax on plastic bags
ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul Wazir has said the federal government in order to reduce the use of plastic bags has decided to impose tax on them and the Ministry for Climate Change has suggested a tax of Rs1-2 per plastic bag.
Speaking to Express News, the state minister said the aim of this tax is to get rid of plastic bags and the government believes imposing tax is the only way to make people stop using plastic bags.
She added the ministry has consulted provinces regarding the proposal and the tax will be imposed after taking provinces into confidence
“The use of plastic bags is injurious to human lives as well as other land and sea creatures and we are trying to get rid of it,” said Wazir adding the use of biodegradable or paper bags should be promoted in order to curb plastic pollution.
Earlier in the Senate’s caucus for climate change, ministry officials briefing about use of plastic bags and hazardous waste said Pakistan is a signatory of the Basil convention which focuses on trans-boundary hazardous pollution waste management, control and its disposal.
The officials further informed in compliance of the convention import of harmful waste was banned in the country and no person was allowed to import the said item to the territory under the Pakistan Environment Protection Act 1999.
During the briefing, they also revealed recently 800 containers transporting plastic waste into the country through Karachi port have been confiscated. The minister also informed the committee that regarding this matter, a discussion is ongoing in cabinet and a probe committee has been formed which will soon present its report.
Meanwhile, committee chairperson Sherry Rehman asked the ministry, “There is ban on import of waste through formal procedure but what is the framework to stop illegal import and what strategy is ministry preparing for its control.”
Wazir replied the ministry’s work is policy-making and correspondence, implementation lies at the end of provinces. Rehman further said this is a serious issue however with making the ministry should be more self-determined and work to gather provinces for implementation.
Moreover, Leader of the House in Senate Shibli Faraz said that for implementation on industrial convention we need to build a framework between federation and provinces so such issues can be resolved.
“To get rid of plastic bags we need to raise awareness among people while there is need to encourage the use of cloth bags,” suggested Senator Ayesha Raza while the minister responded that the government is imposing tax on plastic bags to discourage their use.
However, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senator Faisal Javed opposed the tax.
“Your idea is good but tax cannot be imposed, instead of this you should bring an innovative suggestion or educate people first, kindly create awareness, run an ad campaign so that people know about it,” said the senator announcing he would not support the tax.
The ministry’s additional secretary suggested if you don’t want to impose tax then at least one percent of all PSDP project funds must be submitted in climate change fund so it can provide an alternative of plastic bags.
On this the chairperson formed a sub-caucus comprising Senator Muhammad Ali Saif and Ayesha Raza which has been tasked to formulate suggestions to rid the country of plastic bags.