By Albertina Nakale
Nearly five years after first being mooted by the finance ministry, it has now come to light that Namibians have expressed an unwillingness to fork out money to pay environmental levies. And this is partly the reason why there has been a delay in the tabling of the regulations for environmental levies.
According to Environment and Toursim Minister Pohamba Shifeta the sentiments came to the fore during consultations that took place in February 2013 and again in June 2015. It was at these stakeholders’ consultation forums that “industry players expressed their unwillingness to pay environmental levies that are not directly attached to advancement of biodiversity conservation and environmental protection,” he said.
“But we hope that the imposition of environmental levies under the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia Act will finally be introduced in the 2017/2018 financial year,” he explained.
The Ministry of Justice finalised the required regulations for environmental levies in July 2016, and according to Shifeta the regulations were tabled with Cabinet, which then referred the regulations to the standing committees for further discussion.
The Environmental Investment Fund (EIF), which will monitor the environmental levies, has done much research work on identifying sectors and products that would attract the levies, said Shifeta. Thus far the first business sectors and products to attract environmental levies are electrical and electronic products, including batteries, and lubricant oil.
These business sectors and products were targeted by the EIF because they have proven to be harmful to the environment at end of life or disposal.
According to the EIF an estimate of the Namibian electrical and electronic waste market (e-waste) shows that the per capita waste generated is 4.57 kilogrammes and as a whole the country generates 9 871 metric tons of e-waste. In terms of waste lubricant oil, it is estimated that roughly from the motor vehicle population of Namibia a net 7.4 million litres of waste oil is generated.
“Namibia lags behind many countries when it comes to ensuring that these two products/sectors do not have a negative impact on the environment. There are very few recycling platforms for e-waste generated in Namibia, and most end up in landfills,” said Shifeta.
The implementation regime of the environmental levies envisages that the levies are imposed on persons engaged in any activities affecting environmental and natural resources management for commercial purposes. For instance, the levy on electrical and electronic products, batteries and lubricant oil would be imposed on suppliers.
Shifeta does however acknowledge that the environment ministry and finance ministry’s customs and excise department are fully aware or actually do anticipate that suppliers would transfer the cost of the levy to customers through pricing.
It is for this reason that the draft regulation provides rebates to customers upon depositing the products for recycling, and incentives for recyclers of similar product.
The EIF in conjunction with customs and excise would oversee the payment mechanism or the collection of the money paid as levy. Most of the payments would be collected at the country’s entry points as the designated products enter the country.
The money collected would be handed over to the EIF, which would use it to finance projects such as recycling, renewable energy, environmental rehabilitation, waste management sites for local authorities, private sector environmental-based enterprises and water management projects. All the project funding would be advanced as non-repayable grants, repayable grants, concessional loans, incentive mechanisms and any other financial instrument that would advance the goals of environmental protection, Shifeta says.
Moreover, the EIF is exploring the feasibility of an E-waste National Recycling Centre through a public private partnership and the financing of oil recycling by indigenous private entrepreneurs.
The EIF will continue to support, through the promotion of the environmental research focus area, further studies on environmental levies, he said.