Financial Times

Green taxes to curb pollution
By Lakwi Perera

A series of environmental conservation measures through taxes will come into effect this month, Central Environmental Authority Chairman Udaya Gammanpila told The Sunday Times FT. Four new levies will come into force this month under the Environmental Conservation Levy Act No. 8 of 2008. From August 1, all communication towers will be charged Rs 50,000, the Chairman said, explaining that this was done to induce telecommunication companies to share the towers.

Currently there are over 3200 telecommunication towers in the country while there should be only one within a radius of 500 metres. “Non CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) bulbs will also be levied Rs 3 from August 1,” he said, adding that through this step it is hoped people will switch to CFL bulbs.

The collection will be used to establish a collection network for used CFL bulbs which, if not disposed properly can lead to diseases such as Minimata disease which affects the nervous system of humans.
Mr Gammanpila said a Danish company is interested in setting up a Mercury recovery plant provided there is collection and delivery.

Motor vehicles will also be charged what the Chairman described as a “symbolic levy” from August 1 as a measure to reduce the use of petrol vehicles. Motor bicycles will have to pay Rs 100 and cars Rs 300 per annum.

Mobile phones will be levied two percent of their monthly bills, with the funds being generated through this going into establishing an e-waste recycling plant where used phones will be collected and recycled in the country. “Currently we do not have such a facility and users dispose of their old mobile phones improperly, causing damage to the environment,” he explained.

“These taxes are not meant as income for the government but intended to change the behavioural patterns of the consumers to make them more environmentally friendly,” he stressed, adding that the funds will go into a special account in the Treasury and can only be used for environmental conservation efforts. (LP).

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