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Eustace expresses concern about newly implemented Environment Levy Act

Eustace expresses concern about newly implemented Environment Levy Act

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Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace said yesterday that he is concerned that the newly implemented Environment Levy Act will hit the pockets of consumers and not serve its purpose.{{more}}

Eustace on his party’s radio programme “New Times” on NICE Radio, questioned the timing of the levy, and how it would be implemented.

Eustace said the Comptroller of Customs has written to business houses and customs brokers, noting that under the Environment Levy Act of 2009, importers of beer, stout, malt, ales, aerated drinks, juices, excluding infant juices, and water imported in cans and bottles are required to deposit a levy of 50 cents per can or bottle at the time of importation and/or release.

The letter further said merchants will be refunded when the cans or bottles are re-exported or destroyed, and that this is to be verified by the Customs.

Eustace said that while it is supposed to be a good move for the environment, it was not well thought out and will have serious consequences on the consumers, who are already stretched with their supermarket bills.

“I don’t know what the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines is doing. I don’t know what [Prime Minister Dr Ralph] Gonsalves is doing at a time of economic crisis in this country,” Eustace said.

“They causing more confusion because the things are not thought through properly, as to how it would have the desired impact of improving the situation in the environment,” Eustace further stated.

“When you have a case with 24 bottles it’s 50 cents you paying on each bottle that’s 12 dollars on a case; you telling me that’s not going to affect the price?

“The merchant here ain’t paying the 50 cents you know, is the consumer. So the prices of these things will go up, and you hope that later on, if they bring back the bottles they can be refunded; how you going to administer that?” Eustace said.

“So, you have 100 bottles that you want to destroy, you have to call the Customs to arrange to meet with you where you going to destroy the bottles; all these things are costs, and who in the end pays these initial costs? The consumer, the average man, woman and child in St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Eustace said merchant would pass on the cost of the levy to consumers.

“… so in the end is the consumer who loses, because it’s the consumer who ends up with the bottle.”

Eustace also asked if the levy would be charged against local producers of drinks.

Eustace said that while everyone wants to see an improvement of the environment, proper care and attention should have been given to the factors he outlined, before the law was implemented.

“Here is an example of the government attempting to deal with an important subject, the protection of the environment. Nothing is wrong with that, this is an important area. … [But] some more thought has to be given and time to prepare for a way to implement this thing, which is not going to put up the cost to the public,” Eustace said.

“And that’s the difference in good governance and bad governance. That should be the main concern of the average man in your country and a lack of concern at a time when the economy is doing nothing but going down. How we going to implement this in a way that is fair to the consumer and the business community?” he said. (JJ)

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