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Totally false!

Vaz rejects suggestion that plastic ban a knee-jerk reaction

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

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Daryl Vaz yesterday rejected as false a claim by Wisynco Group Chairman William Mahfood that the Government's decision to impose a ban on plastic bags and styrofoam “is a knee-jerk reaction which will not work”.

Mahfood made the statement Monday in response to the Government's announcement of a ban on the importation, manufacture and distribution of three types of plastic products, effective January 1, 2019.

According to Vaz, the suggestion that the Government has taken a “knee-jerk” decision could not be further from the truth. He said extensive consultations were held, following a private members' motion raised in the Senate in October 2016 by Government Senator Matthew Samuda.

Vaz, the minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, said that the motion went to Cabinet and a public/private sector working group was set up in January 2017, more than a year ago, to deliberate on the issue.

“The working group included several government agencies, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, the Jamaica Manufacturers and Employers Association, and the Opposition,” Vaz said in a news release yesterday

He said that of note is that representatives of Wisynco were among stakeholders who made submissions to the working group, and the company submitted an extensive document which outlined its feedback to the proposed ban on polystyrene foam.

Following the submission of the working group's report to Vaz, the Cabinet asked for further consultations to be held. “These were done specifically with stakeholders, with many of these consultations actually being chaired by the minister over the last 12 months,” the release said.

“The consultations we had were comprehensive and the Government had signalled from long ago that the ban was coming, but we wanted to have adequate deliberation with stakeholders. The Government has moved in the direction that many global countries are moving, including our Caribbean neighbours, Dominica, The Bahamas and Grenada, who this year announced similar measures,” Vaz said.

He added that in 2016, when the intention of the Government was made clear, some companies had requested a five-year delay in the implementation of the ban, but this was regarded as too long.

“It has been almost three years since stakeholders were aware of the direction in which the Government was heading,” Vaz said. “Last week a few companies again requested a five-year extension before the ban was put into effect but this suggestion could not be countenanced, given the aforementioned context and the notice given.”

He said it is noteworthy that Opposition spokeswoman on the environment, Senator Sophia Fraser-Binns, on public radio yesterday, also dismissed the suggestion that the announcement of the ban was hasty or knee-jerk.

Fraser-Binns cited extensive consultations held by the public/private sector working group which deliberated on the issue. She also stated that the Opposition participated in the deliberations and “is supporting the initiative of the Government”.

Arguing that the Government was reasonable, Vaz said the move to implement a January 2020 timeline for local manufacture and distribution of polystyrene foam to be used as finished goods in the food and beverage industry was to mitigate against any potential losses which local manufacturers may incur due to the ban.

“We have to put our country and the well-being of our global village first,” Vaz said. “I urge those resisting the move to note that it cannot always be about the almighty dollar. The time comes in the existence of any country when decisions have to be made in the interest of current and future generations.”

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