An eco-friendly budget

Budget 2018 includes a series of eco-friendly proposals which will enable Sri Lanka to move forward sustainable development, Central Environmental Authority Chairman Professor Lal Dharmasiri yesterday said.

Professor Dharmasiri described the electric vehicle proposal, the introduction of emission and safety standards, encouragement for bio-degradable material and the carbon tax to be the foremost eco-friendly proposals in Budget 2018.

“The proposal to discourage the usage of polythene and plastic products by imposing an excise duty of Rs.10 per kilogramme for plastic resins is an excellent one. The imposed excise duty will affect the product’s price. When the price goes up we expect the consumers will be discouraged to buy those items and it will ultimately lessen the usage. I believe that Rs. 10 is not enough and it should be more,” Professor Dharmasiri said.

“Encouraging the private sector to convert to environmentally friendly alternatives, to engage in manufacturing them out of bio-degradable material and freeing bi-degradable polythene of tax are also two complementary proposals to the eco-friendly approach of the Budget 2018,” Professor Dharmasiri stated .

“All these proposals are not just environmental friendly, but health oriented as well,” he pointed out. Professor Dharmasiri also commended the proposal to impose a Carbon Tax as a strong measure taken to lessen carbon emission.

He pointed out that a Carbon Tax is a method adopted by many developed countries, based on the concept that ‘the polluter should pay for the pollution’.

“This tax will not be a heavy burden on the people either. For example, an amount of Rs. 1,000 will be required to pay as the Carbon Tax for the whole year. For smaller vehicles, the payments will also be very low. I would like to propose that this tax money should also be used for environmental protection programmes.” he added.

He also said the proposal to remove the Customs duty for all machinery, equipment, raw materials and intermediary goods used in manufacturing of bio-degradable packaging material is also a well thought out move.

Professor Dharmasiri also said the proposal to introduce 50 electric buses to the public transportation system is an impressive step towards minimizing air and sound pollution in the Colombo metropolitan region. He urged for a similar bus service be introduced for Colombo and the suburbs.

He also complimented the large allocations made for waste management projects. Professor Dharmasiri observed that there never has been such large allocations for waste management in previous budgets.

“One of the biggest issues with regards to both environment and development was the lack of proper waste management. This move to regularise the waste management system in the country will provide solutions to one of the burning issues in the urban parts of the country,” he further said.

The eco-friendly budgetary proposals also include the Pavithra Ganga project, which will focus on ensuring zero disposal of waste by factories into waterways over time.

Meanwhile, Green Movement of Sri Lanka Chairperson/CEO Suranjan Kodithuwakku, recognising the eco-friendly budgetary proposals for a blue-green economy in positive light, proposed a transitional period of at least of ten years to set the background for these proposals to be actualised.

“These proposals are good and spell out national interests, keeping in line with the UN Climate Change Agreements. What is more important now is for the government to set a strong backdrop against which these budgetary proposals can be realized. I personally believe that the policymakers need to look into global conventions on environmental issues and conduct in depth studies to clear the way for the implementation of these proposals,” Kodithuwakku said.

Kodithuwakku also observed that more planning and in depth studies are necessary to build a strong foundation to implement these eco-friendly budgetary proposals.

He also pointed out that more emphasis should be put on the concept of ‘Green Energy’ to realize these proposals as well. 

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