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DateLine Sunday, 10 August 2008

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Environment Conservation Levies will check pollution - CEA chairman

Mixed reactions to taxes:

He said Sri Lanka has an international obligation to incorporate the polluter pays principle in line with the Declaration to ensure a cleaner environment for all.Principle 16 of the Declaration states that the polluter has to pay a penalty for disregarding the right of people to live in a healthy environment.

N. R. Gajendran Udaya Gammanpila

“The Environment Conservation Levies were proposed in the 2007 Budget but the delay in enforcing them was due to heated debates and constant opposition from various groups”, Gammanpila said.

The Green Levies proposed by the CEA have come under criticism that they add to the burden of the people who are caught up with the escalating cost-of-living and a means to recoup the expenditure on the SAARC Summit and the Provincial Council elections.

Gammanpila said people who do not understand the gravity of improper disposal of mobile phones and CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) on health will criticise and try to sabotage the good work of others.

“The CEA expects to achieve between Rs. 500-800 million revenue from the taxes.

The revenue from the taxes cannot meet the expenses of the SAARC Summit and the Provincial Council elections.

The CEA will be accountable to the funds and will ensure that it is being used for conservation activities”, he said.

The prices of mobile phones have come down drastically in the recent past and the disposal rate has increased over the years. The poisonous chemical substances are hazardous to health. Improper disposal of CFL bulbs will result in people being affected by Minamata which causes a neuro disorder originated in the city of Minamata, Japan in 1956.

Partner, Gajma and Co, Chartered Accountants and Tax Consultant N.R. Gajendran said revenue proposals should be made through the budget and not as interim proposals.

Interim proposals are made to grant relief. The Green levies have been introduced to cover the Government’s expenditure on the SAARC Summit and the Provincial Council elections.

“A mobile phone which is being widely used is not a luxury item. A tax on the phone will be an added cost to low and middle income earners. Consumers will have to pay for the tax on new telecommunication towers”, he said. SME sector enterprises will be affected within a short time due to the rise in inflation, interest rates and fuel prices as a result of the construction boom in many countries.

Levies on mobile phones, telecommunication towers, use of non CFL bulbs and petrol vehicles came into force from August 1 under the Environment Conservation Levy Act No. 8 of 2008.

All communication towers will be charged Rs. 50,000. A levy of 2 per cent of the monthly Bill will be imposed on mobile phones, Rs. 3 will be charged on non CFL bulbs and there will be a levy of Rs. 100 on motorcycles and Rs. 300 on cars per annum.

The levy on communication towers was introduced to encourage companies to share the towers while a tax on petrol will reduce the use of petrol vehicles.

The CEA targets a revenue of Rs. 500 - 800 million this year from the taxes and the money will be deposited in the Environment Conservation Fund.

The funds will be used to set up an e waste plant and disposal collection centres across the country.

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