Is it a matter of the environment or welfare of people? This will be the question the government of Kenya will have to answer the Kenya manufacturers as they plan to ban use of plastic bags in the country.
Already it is estimated that there could be a loss of close to 60,000 jobs should the ban be implemented. An indirect 400,000 jobs will be lost if the country carry on with the ban program. This will ultimately and adversely affect the economy of the country adding more pressure and burden on the issue of job employment.
Through their lobby, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, the industries pleaded with the government to consider their proposal for a waste management programme through the Finance Bill 2017.
Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu announced the ban through a February 28 Gazette notice, which takes effect six months from the publication date. The ban applies for plastic bags for both domestic and commercial use. KAM, however, argued that about Sh5.26 billion (about Rwf42.08 billion) in annual revenues will be wiped out of the economy.
Flora Mutahi, the association chairperson, urged Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich to consider removing the Sh120 (about Rwf960) per kilogramme charged on plastic bags and instead introduce a waste management fiscal policy.
This proposal include establishment of the waste management board levy to be charged on all plastic at source (point of entry) at one per cent of the value equivalent to the product’s cost, insurance and freight. The funds, the manufacturers argued, should be collected by the Treasury through the Kenya Revenue Authority and allocated to the Ministry of Environment and the National Environment Management Authority.
They estimate the government is likely to collect about Sh785 million (about Rwf6.3 billion) from the proposed levy against about Sh200 million (about Rwf1.6 billion) in excise duty collected under the current taxation regime.
“We are committed to responsible business practices which are geared towards environmental management and conservation,” Mutahi said.
The move by Kenya is largely seen as following in the footsteps of Rwanda which banned the use of plastic bags in 2008.
The development, KAM claimed, came a week after Kenya managed to convince the East Africa Legislative Assembly to put on hold the passing of a bill into law.
The bill proposes to ban use of plastic bags in the entire region.
KAM chief executive Phyllis Wakiaga said the industry is ready to pay the price of recycling the plastic bags.
“We have 176 manufacturers of plastic bags in the country. Out of this, 90 per cent have recycling plants on the ground,” Wakiaga said, partly blaming the public for plastic waste menace.
Plastic manufacturers’ representative at KAM Priyav Shah termed the government move as “quick decisions.”
“There is a better way to plastic management than a ban,” said Shah, who is also the chief executive officer King Plastic Industries Limited. Kenya Private Sector Alliance called on the government to negotiate with industry players to find an “amicable solution.”