As the ban on petro-based single-use plastics and styrofoam took effect today, the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) is calling on the Government to waive duties and taxes on eco-friendly food packaging.
In a statement issued on Sunday evening, DLP spokesman on Business and Entrepreneurship Ryan Walters said a waiver on duties and taxes was one method of easing the burden on small business operators who are “suffering financial losses as a result of the transition”.
Retailers and vendors are expected to cumulatively lose hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result of dumping unsold plastics and styrofoam products.
Many of them have also complained about the high cost of sourcing alternative products.
And while Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey said he had received several requests from vendors and retailers for an extension, he would be reviewing each case individually. He said however, there will be no compensation for those who find themselves having to dump the banned products after today.
Accusing Government of taking a “hurried, hot and sweaty approach”, Walters said there was a need for the administration to step in and offer some assistance to those struggling to make the change.
“After realizing the significant increase in the cost of alternatives, the DLP advises that the right and only thing to do is to reduce or waive the import duty on these alternatives. This would mean that wholesalers would be able to attract premium ware at attractive prices with no disruption to the quality of products offered to their customers at a similar or reduced price,” said Walters.
However, Walters argued that there was “an obvious disconnect” between the Ministry of the Blue Economy and the Ministry of Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
He accused Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce Dwight Sutherland of sitting by watching entrepreneurs and business people “wrestle their way through this transition” without lifting a finger to substantially assist in their plight and making no effort to address the concerns from those in this important industry.
“While one Government ministry is fulfilling its mandate, another is sitting idly by and watching those under its watch suffer,” said Walters, while accusing the two ministries of having “two different mandates”.
“While the initiative seems like a step in the right direction the DLP will continue to question the execution of its implementation and the implications of such an initiative to businesses and consumers. Where is the consideration for the business people who will be adversely affected by the arbitrary and hasty approach?” he said.
Walters argued that over the past six months wholesalers have had a challenge in sourcing “premium eco-friendly alternatives” that were durable enough to withstand heat and hold liquid.
“Secondly, the costs to obtain these products were substantially higher, sometimes by more than five times the current cost,” he added.
Walters accused the Mia Mottley-led administration of “saddling” citizens with the direct burden of a rising cost of doing business and cost of living rather than examining how the hardship can be shared.
“Once again the Mia Mottley administration has proven that it has moved to implementation before thoroughly analysing the effects and outcome of new policies, a practice that we have seen in almost every new policy roll-out. A hurried, hot and sweaty approach with the consequences be damned,” said Walters.