GRTU deplores the direction taken by Government in the last Budget related to addressing Eco Contribution reform by changing this to excise duty for beers, wines and water.
GRTU has time and time again spoken against Eco Contribution as one of the worst pieces of legislation ever drafted. It is effectively a tax that only distorts
market fairness and in no way favours the environment. GRTU was always against businesses paying their environmental dues twice - once in the form of eco tax and once to an authorised scheme that actually took care of their environmental obligations. We therefore requested Government to remove the Eco Contribution so that it would make sense for producers and importers to join an Authorised Scheme in respect to Packaging Waste. To ensure a fair and level playing field for the law abiding businesses, adequate enforcement would be put in place as well as adequate penalties and administrative fines that would discourage non-compliance.
This was somewhat achieved back in 2009 when authorised scheme members started becoming exempted from eco-contribution. Substituting Eco Contribution with Excise Tax clearly ignores any progress made and puts us 6 years backwards. Even though in a meeting held with the Ministry of Finance last Wednesday we were told that the excise tax is much less then Eco Contribution, this is nothing more than an additional tax or a so called double payment for the same service.
We have asked the Ministry of Finance to suspend this measure with immediate effect and discuss with stakeholders the way to eliminate completely the Eco Contribution Act as soon as possible. The constituted bodies were very clear that this year we did not want surprises and the Budget consultation period should be used specifically to discuss these issues prior to announcement in the Budget.
GRTU is bewildered that Government is seeking to discourage water consumption because it regards this as detrimental to the environment.
Importers and Producers already have a liability under The Packaging and Packaging Waste legislation in place and enforcing this EU Directive needs to be the only way forward.
The recent implementation of the WEEE Directive by Government just last September was well received by the business Community at large. GRTU expected Government to continue building and not throw all this progress down the drain.
Government needs to get its priorities straight.
The Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive like the WEEE Directive and like many others are there to stay. Producers in Malta need to be at par with their counterparts across the Community.
There is only one way to stop abuse – enforcement. Enforcement in this country has always been a farce. We have 60 police officers enforcing the Birds Directive and none to enforce the Packaging Waste Directive. We do not support free riders but we are strongly against Government always choosing the easy way out and having the law abiding businesses pay the price for the evaders just because Government refuses to enforce environmental legislation.
GRTU is always open for discussions over this issue, and ready to provide solutions as we have done in the past. We must point out however that there was no kind of consultation on this issue and Social Partners are not there to discuss with them only when one feels like it. We either are always treated as partners or else we will have to go our different ways which is not healthy for anyone at the end.
We hope our call to suspend this measure with immediate effect does not fall on deaf ears.