A representative for Laamu’s Gan constituency Gan MP Mohamed Visaam, on Wednesday, proposed an amendment to the Export-Import Act, that would halt the import of single-use plastic into the Maldives from January 2021 onwards.
The amendment submitted by the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s parliamentarian proposes charging import duties for items such as straws, disposable film and plastic plates for the remainder of 2020.
The prohibition of importing such goods is to come into effect starting from next year, per the bill.
In July 2019, the parliament passed a resolution to ban single-use plastics in the Maldives from 2025 after students from 17 schools collectively submitted a proposal highlighting the dangers of single-use plastic.
The resolution stressed the threats posed by single-use plastics to Maldives’ fragile environment, highlighting that main sectors of the economy such as fisheries and tourism were directly dependent on the conservation of biodiversity, the cleanliness of oceans and beaches, and maintaining sustainable ecosystems.
In addition to the prohibition of single-use plastics, MP Visaam’s amendment proposes cuts on import duty charged for certain household appliances and materials required for the development of various industries.
However, the state is yet to place measures that would curb the country-wide use of single-use-plastics for necessary facilities such as waste collection, and in the wake of the ongoing global pandemic, for use as personal protection.
Most environmentalists agree the effectiveness of any plastic ban hinges on first ensuring that the need for its day to day use is addressed and that the populace is adequately informed and educated.
Import duties on electronic household appliances including washing machines, air conditioners and inverters will be scrapped as per the amendment. Motorized wheelchairs for individuals with special needs are also included in the list of items for which duties are to be slashed.
Conversely, increases are proposed for import duties levied on cigarettes, cigars and alcohol. The amendment also proposes to cut import duties for unused cars, vans and jeeps while charges for used vehicles are to be increased by 300 per cent.
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