Imposition of the Plastic Bag Levy

06/09/2017 15:01

The Consumer Council of Fiji is calling on traders to straighten their act as far as imposition of theEnvironment and Climate Adaptation Levy (ECAL) on plastic bags is concerned.

The Council registered a total of 106 complaints within a month after the introduction of the 10centsper plastic bag levy in August.

The Council’s National Consumer Helpline was abuzz with consumers seeking clarification andraising concerns regarding the wrongful charging of the levy by some traders. In addition, theCouncil’s social media page was also filled with posts of consumers seeking clarification on the chargeof the levy.

In most of the cases consumers were charged 10cents on plastic bags which was not reflected on theirreceipts. In other cases, consumers were charged for plastic bags without handles.

Based on the influx of complaints, the Council sought clarification from the Fiji Revenue and CustomsServices (FRCS) on the application of levy on plastic bags.

FRCS has clarified to the Council that the newly introduced levy must be clearly stated on theconsumer’s receipts. Furthermore, the levy is only applicable on plastic bags with handles.

Consumers can avoid this levy by carrying their own bag to pack the items. And it is the responsibilityof the trader to ask consumers how many bags they wish to purchase. From consumer perspective,plastic bag is another item which they pay for and it must be reflected on the receipt.

The Council noted that traders particularly restaurants, small retail shops and bakeries misledconsumers into paying for the plastic bag used but failed to show the amount charged on the receipt.Hence, the Council collated all the complaints received and referred them to the FRCS for enforcementactions and is hopeful that FRCS will take action against these traders.

Traders are reminded that that Section 3 Clause 4 Part (b) of the ECAL Act- 2017 clearly stipulatesthat the charge: “be clearly and separately shown on a tax invoice, invoice or receipt issued for thepurchase of any goods.” Traders who fail to adhere to the ECAL Act or the implementation of thelevy in the rightful manner may be subject to fines and penalties by the enforcement agency.

Nevertheless, consumers who feel they are wrongly charged for the plastic bag can contact theNational Consumer Helpline toll free number 155 or the FRCS.