Don’t Tax Plastic Bags Yet: Council

Ten cents will be charged per bag used in order to reduce plastic waste and usage in Fiji. Photo: GOOGLE.

By ANA SOVA

The Consumer Council of Fiji has sent out a stern warning to all sellers and traders after it has been brought to their attention that they’ve started charging 10 cents tax on plastic bags to consumers at the point of sale.

Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Premila Kumar said this shouldn’t be the case.

“The traders and supermarkets must wait for the application of the new tax which will commence from August 1st, 2017 as announced by the Minister of Economy during the budget address,” Ms. Kumar said.

She said the Council would like to see same enthusiasm from traders when duty and other taxes are reduced to benefit consumers.

“It is generally seen that some traders do not act immediately in such situations yet they are very quick in increasing prices when there is an increase in duties and other taxes,” Ms. Kumar said.

She added the Council has also received calls from the consumers regarding the price increase on cigarettes, alcohol/liquor and sugar-sweetened drinks.

“It was reported that merchants increased the price of their old stock of goods (cigarettes and alcohol) on which duty was increased after the budget announcement on 29 June 2017,” Ms. Kumar said.

She said this should not have happened because the new duty rate and other changes relating to the Customs Tariff Act following the budget announcement should apply to goods arriving for the first time in Fiji by ship or aircraft, or on all uncleared cargo after midnight, 29 June, 2017.

“While the Council fully supports the cause and encourages consumer cooperation, it however, wishes to remind traders and supermarkets to engage in ethical practices,”

“Consumers have a social responsibility towards the environment and in exercising their responsibility they are urged to use alternative bags and baskets in place of single-use plastic bags,” Ms. Kumar said.

A plastic bag tax was announced, in a bid to safeguard the environment during the 2017-2018 budget announcement by the Minister for Economy and Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Ten cents will be charged per bag used in order to reduce plastic waste and usage in Fiji.

As an alternative, the ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism will introduce reusable bags for shoppers through the Fijian-Made campaign.