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Provide more information on plastic ban, PNP urges Gov't

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The People's National Party (PNP) says that while it welcomes the announcement by Government to ban the use of plastic bags, styrofoam containers, and drinking straws, there is a lack of information on the implementation of the initiative.

In a statement today, Spokesperson on Land and Environment, Senator Sophia Frazer-Binns, called on the government to quickly move to provide further and better particulars on how this initiative will be implemented.

The Opposition in its statement noted the following concerns:

1. NEPA is charged with providing the exemption to business, institutions or individuals who wish to seek an exemption from the application of this scheme, however it is not clear what are the guidelines or the consideration that will guide NEPA's deliberation. At the same time, it is unclear whether NEPA has the requisite resources human and otherwise to effectively undertake this new task assigned to it. As a consequence the government should ensure adequate resources are provided to enable NEPA to undertake its task effectively and efficiently.

2. Undoubtedly, there is likely to be some financial implications with the adoption of this new policy by some businesses. The government has mentioned that a framework will be worked out with the Development Bank of Jamaica to provide some assistance. Such profound and far reaching measures require the government to have already detailed the provisions for funding assistance to be given to industry personnel to offset any financial fallout. Specifically, attention must be given to small and medium size enterprises which may be mostly affected, as well as for all steps to be taken to ensure the cost is not passed on the consumer.

3. There does not appear to be any consideration given to garbage disposal. Majority of Jamaicans dispose of their garbage in the single use plastic bags commonly known as “scandal bags” therefore when these are no longer available, it begs the question as to what will happen to these people and how will they dispose of their garbage. Consequently it behooves the government to provide with urgency readily available alternatives so that we do not end up seeking to resolve one issue but causing another through poor garbage disposal or containerisation.

4. The steps to ensure that our ports and points of entry are secured cannot be left unattended. The requisite resources must be made available to fully equip the customs and such other ports to ensure efficient surveillance and detection and sufficient sanction to deter defiance.

The Opposition also said that greater public education must be undertaken to ensure all stakeholders, including community-based organisations, are fully aware of the requirements of the new policy as well as the alternatives available.

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