The proposal to withdraw the existing 5 percent supplementary duty on all types of polythene bags, plastic bags and wrapping materials in the budget for FY 2022-2023 has raised concern among the environmentalists and environment activists.
Bangladesh Nature Conservation Alliance (BNCA), a platform of 33 environmental organisations, has expressed concern over the proposal, saying that such proposal is a support to the polyethene and plastic products, which are harmful to the environment and public health.
In a press statement, the BNCA said that if this proposal is implemented, the price of polythene bags will decrease which will increase the use of this banned material in the country. The statement signed by the alliance’s convener and also the chairman at Center for Atmospheric Pollution Studies (CAPS) Prof Dr Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder was issued on Tuesday (June 14).
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in his budget speech said, “I propose to withdraw the existing 5 percent supplementary duty on all types of polythene bags, plastic bags (including oven plastic bags) and wrapping materials made of polyethylene.”
Opposing the proposal, the alliance of environmental organisations said that polythene is extremely harmful for the environment. The BNCA thinks that the proposal to withdraw the supplementary duty on polythene is self-contradictory as the government and various government agencies have been speaking out against the use of harmful polythene.
“Although the government on numerous occasions discouraged the use of polyethene and plastic, terming it a great threat to the environment, the proposal of withdrawing 5 per cent supplementary duty is unexpected,” reads the statement.
Environmental pollution is already a terrible situation in Bangladesh. Polythene is a non-decomposable product which has a serious negative impact on the environment.
Bangladesh became the first country in the world to ban thinner plastic bags through enactment of law in 2002. But this time the proposed budget is encouraging its use, opines BNCA.
The Bangladesh Nature Conservation Alliance made a three-point demand over the issue. The demands include to reconsider the proposal to repeal the supplementary duty on polythene; implementation of the law which bans polythene and plastics harmful to the environment and to take appropriate initiative to stop the use of polythene; and to bring all the industries which are harmful to the environment under duty and to encourage the environment friendly industries by giving incentives.
A 5 percent supplementary duty has been imposed on all forms of polythene and plastic bags since the 2018-19 fiscal.
Former finance minister AMA Muhith had proposed the duty to boost the use of jute bags and protect the environment.