The Government on March 1, 2010 introduced 20 per cent environmental tax on packaged water excluding sachet water but this has been reduced to 17.5 per cent.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra, Mr Magnus Nuno, the President of NASWAP, described the ad valorem tax (environmental tax) as bad because its partial implementation was discriminatory.
He cited for instance anyone importing plastics to package biscuits locally had to pay 20 per cent on the imported plastics while the same biscuits imported into the country already packed had no tax paid on them.
Mr Nuno explained that importers of packaged water of any brand did not pay 20 per cent tax but importers of empty containers to be used to package water locally paid the environmental tax.
He said the law implied that the government was creating jobs for companies overseas while discouraging local industries, in addition to promoting double taxation on finished products which did not augur well for the growth of small and medium scale producers.
On the directive by the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology to ban black polythene as part of the government’s overall intention of placing ban on plastics, Mr Nuno described the move as very bad.
He said the directive would create a recipe for disaster saying the black polythene bags were the by-products of recycled plastic waste and a ban would mean stopping recycling entirely.
Mr Nuno said plastic waste created problems in the past but noted that it had now become the prime raw material for feeding recycling plants.
He said with the assistance of the assemblies and the private sector, massive education had been embarked upon coupled with the provision of over 5,000 waste disposal bins, arrest and prosecution of people who litter and turning plastic trash into commodity.
“In Accra currently, both the elderly and the young could be seen collecting these plastic trash and selling them to recycling companies where they are transformed into black carrier bags,” he added.
Mr Nuno said the ban on carrier bags would lead to loss of jobs and revenue to the government while the people would revert to the use of containers for drinking.
He suggested that the government should enact a law to introduce bio-degradable addictives at the various recycling points for all plastic waste.
Mr Nuno said in order to support the government to tackle these problems, the Association had proposed the exemption of sachet water producers from paying the 17.5 per cent environmental tax and instead set up a Plastic Waste Management Fund that would be solely used for the management of plastic waste in the country.
He appealed to the government to partner the private sector in establishing a National Plastic Waste Management Secretariat to help curb issues concerning plastic waste.
Mr Nuno assured the public that exemption of sachet water producers from paying the environmental tax would not affect the price of sachet water which was increased from five to 10 pesewas effective March 1, this year.
On the alleged cholera outbreak which was linked to sachet water, Mr Nuno said available statistics indicated that they were baseless, illogical and smacks of mischief.
“According to the statistics 95 per cent of commercially treated water is sachet and five per cent constitutes treated water in containers and other forms. Therefore, if the argument is 85 per cent of cholera cases in Accra could be attributable to sachet water and yet the recorded cases are less than a 1,000, it would be difficult to conclude that sachet was is indeed the cause of cholera,” he added.
He assured the public that sachet water certified by the Ghana Standards Board is safe.