I was asked last week by the Sunday Standard for my opinion on the failure of the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism to collect the so-called "plastic bag levy" that was introduced in 2007. It seems that none of the money collected by stores has in fact been collected by the Ministry and frankly I think that's a bit of a disgrace.
This is what I emailed the Sunday Standard on 13th December.
HiHowever in yesterday's paper this is what they printed:
Feel free to quote from the following, referring to me as "Richard Harriman from Consumer Watchdog".
Hope this helps.
This is very concerning. Consumers have been paying for plastic bags for several years believing that the money raised was funding the protection of our environment. It's shocking to learn now that this hasn't been happening. We're therefore entitled to ask some questions and get some answers.
Why didn't the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism collect the money? What stopped them?
What environmental damage has been done that could have been prevented with the money paid to stores?
Where is the money that we've been paying for the plastic bags? Have the stores kept it somewhere waiting for the Ministry to collect it or have they spent it? Has it contributed towards their profits or have they paid it to their shareholders? The stores need to tell us where our money has gone.
Finally, if the Ministry isn't going to collect the money, maybe consumers should ask for it back?
Managing Director of Business and Enterprise Solutions Botswana, Richard Harriman argued that the minister owes consumers an answer on why government has not been collecting money customers pay to stores for plastic bags.For the record, I did not comment on the Minister, either by title or name. The quotation in the second paragraph that they say was from me is in fact nothing to do with me.
“I think Khama owes consumers a lot of answers like why his Ministry did not collect the money, what environment damage was done by his failure to collect the money as plastic bags are scattered all over the country which could have been prevented by spending the money that could have been collected.”
Harriman pointed out that Khama needs to also tell the consumers where that money is and whether they will still be able to collect it or whether the money has already been spent by the stores, whether it contributed to the stores profits, whether it had been paid to shareholders or whether the customers should claim it back.
Sorry to be pedantic but it matters.