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September 20, 2017

Industries claim plastic bags ban to lead to more job losses

Nairobi Govenor Evans Kidero and his wife Susan Kidero Mboya shopping at Nakumatt Ukay.Photo file
Nairobi Govenor Evans Kidero and his wife Susan Kidero Mboya shopping at Nakumatt Ukay.Photo file

Manufacturers warned yesterday the ban on plastic bags will lead to loss of about 60,000 jobs directly and another 400,000 indirectly.

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 CS Judi Wakhungu announced the ban through a Gazette notice dated February 28, 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 in annual revenues will be wiped out of the economy.

The lobby’s chair Flora Mutahi said Treasury CS Henry Rotich should consider removing the Sh120 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 manufactuers argued, should be collected by 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 from the proposed levy against about Sh200 million 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 CEO King Plastic Industries Limited.

Kenya Private Sector Alliance called on the government to negotiate with industry players to find an “amicable solution.”

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