PS says environment tax will ease public health risks and curb pollution

The Ministry of Environment has defended the proposed imposition of an environment tax, arguing that the move will help curb pollution and mitigate public health risks. Environment Principal Secretary Festus Ng’eno told the National Assembly’s Finance and National Planning Committee Kenyans are exposed to harmful substances whose cost of treatment has taken a heavy toll on meagre public resources.

“The Owino Uhuru [an estate in Nairobi] lead poisoning case calls for better end-of-use car batteries management. It is estimated that over 1,000 substances, including lead, cadmium and mercury, are released into our environment by these products,” Mr Ng’eno said.

“Kenya produces approximately 25,000 tonnes of solid waste per day, of which around 60 percent is estimated to be organic and the rest is problematic synthetic waste streams.” The PS was defending the ministry’s decision to impose a Sh150 per kilo levy on plastics. He said the country has seen a significant increase in problematic waste and the revenue generated from the eco levy will fund initiatives on modern waste management.

“The proposal to introduce an eco-levy on problematic waste streams is not just another tax, but a strategic tool designed to encourage sustainable practices, fund waste management programmes, and promote environmental stewardship across the country,” he said.

The MPs demanded to know how the money will be used to protect the environment when the revenue generated from the eco-levy will go directly to the exchequer. Mr Kimani asked how the ministry will differentiate between products that already attract tax.

Baringo North MP Joseph Makilap pointed out that more than 1,000 stakeholders who provided views on the eco-levy had opposed its introduction. Kesses MP Julius Ruto demanded to know whether there are substitutes to plastic products if the levy is to be imposed on packaging materials.

“The aim of the levy is to protect the environment, not to raise money to fund other activities,” Karachuonyo MP Adipo Okuome, said.

Committee vice chairperson Benjamin Lang’at said the public made a strong presentation on the issue of diapers, batteries, and other forms of plastics. “Eco-levy is another tax that has no structures to manage the funds,” Mr Lang’at said. The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) told MPs that the eco-levy will be imposed on packaging materials and not products. Nema Director-General Mamo Mano told the lawmakers that all products that come into the country eventually become waste and, therefore, get into the environment.

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