Discussions on eco-contribution legislation
FOI Director General Edwin Calleja led delegations of FOI members at two separate meetings organised last Thursday by the Ministry of Finance on the new eco-contribution legislation.
The FOI took the initiative to fix these meetings with Tonio Fenech, Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Finance, to clarify points in the legislation on the eco-contribution, which has just been approved by the House of Representatives, and to resolve the technical issues on specific products and packaging that affected certain firms in the manufacturing and service industries.
A separate meeting was held with the parliamentary secretary to discuss particular issues relating to bottlers. The meeting helped to establish the different rates payable on empty containers and imported products in containers, the date when the eco-contribution fell due and which enterprise in the manufacturing chain was liable for payment.
The parliamentary secretary emphasised that payment was due on existing stocks on the date when the law came into effect. There was also a serious debate on the method of establishing the stock, the date and method of payment, and Government's readiness to consider certain payment terms due on heavy stocks.
The bottlers insisted with the authorities on the importance of curbing all forms of contraband to ensure a level playing field between imports and local manufactures. The FOI was pleased to note that Government was contemplating an amendment to the law to enable it to confiscate any products on which the eco-contribution was not paid from the market.
Representatives of the major bottling companies, all members of the federation, mentioned the collection of waste bottles. Government assured the FOI that it was prepared to exempt from the eco-contribution any bottle collection scheme, provided it was sent by the promoters to the authorities and approved.
The second meeting included Godwin C. Micallef, chairman of the FOI Environment Committee. It was attended by representatives of firms that operated in different sectors, such as service providers, contract fillers for chemical products, air-conditioning installers, refrigeration, exporters having raw materials, oil lubricants, or that manufactured products or packaging, that were subject to payment of the eco-contribution.
There were a few clarifications about the stock situation, and the interpretation of the law in general, and particular instances where product classification left doubt about its interpretation.
In certain instances the parliamentary secretary promised to reconsider specific cases where industry used packaging and raw materials in exported products that would not be contributing to an increase in the local waste stream.
The meetings were held in a conciliatory environment and helped to emphasise that industry was struggling to compete and was doing its best to keep its costs down because the market was so price sensitive that it was forcing producers to limit the negative effects that the eco-contribution will have on its pricing strategies.