Business owners who stand to lose out as a result of the soon-to-be implemented ban on single-use plastics in Barbados should be compensated by Government.
That suggestion was made today in Parliament by Opposition Leader Joseph Atherley during debate on the Control of Disposable Plastics Bill 2019.
Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, recently announced that vendors and retailers will now have until July 1, to use their existing stock, while the ban on the importation of the products will remain April 1, as planned. Additionally, the January 1, 2020 ban on all petro-based plastic bags also remains in effect.
Atherley said the ban meant that jobs would be lost, at a time when Government was also looking to make cuts in the public service.
“There are people who are involved in enterprises, whose main business relates to the use of plastics and this ban and the breadth of it will have implications for them going forward and their jobs.
“Some of them have been working in this area for 30 and 35 and close to 40 years. So in this era where we are constrained significantly by our relationship with the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the arrangements that flow there from, part of which is the address of employment levels in the public sector and we are into the business of retrenchment, we have to be acutely aware that unintentionally so in this instance, we will be adding to the numbers who are unemployed going forward,” the Opposition Leader said.
He contended that while the ban was an act of good intention by Government, it was also not the fault of those business owners who will be negatively impacted.
As a result, Atherley said Government needed to look at the possibility of compensating those businesses, as some had invested heavily in buying equipment and would therefore “suffer significant losses” as a result of the ban.
“I want to suggest to the Minister and seriously so, that perhaps Government needs to think about compensating those businesses which will be significantly impacted by this measure.
“This loss in their case will not be as a result of bad business practices. It will not be resulting from failure of their business…but they now will be forced to suffer economically and financially because of this measure, through no fault of their own,” Atherley maintained.
“The question in that context will always have to be raised, as to whether or not Government has a moral responsibility at least, to consider compensation to some of these people, since this loss incurred by them with respect to their businesses is not induced by their own failure or bad practices, but by Government’s good intentions to clean up our environment.”