Traders charging increased Plastic Bag Levy

23/07/2018 12:54

The Consumer Council of Fiji is calling on traders to get their act together and not charge the new $0.20 plastic bag levy before Government’s new financial year.

The increased levy from $0.10 to $0.20 was touted by the Minister for Economy as the next step in a gradual phase out of plastic bags by 2020. This increased levy is to be introduced on 01 August, 2018.

However, it is shocking to note that some large traders, with the wealth and breadth of financial advisory resources available to them, are still making mistakes with the application of the levy.

The Consumer Council received a recent case where a consumer was charged the $0.20 plastic bag levy on 15 July, 2018 at the Pacific Energy Service station in Kinoya. This is the second year the plastic bag levy has been applied and it is inexcusable for such errors to occur.

This case represents a complaint from a single consumer however, our further concern is that multiple unsuspecting consumers at the service station may have been charged the increased levy.

When the Council contacted Pacific Energy, it was initially informed that all point of sale systems were charging $0.10 for the levy and not $0.20. Later, the Council was informed that Pacific Energy had made an error in charging the levy.

However, there was no further commitment from the trader to investigate the incorrect charge. The refusal to even conduct further checks and provide redress reeks of a callous disregard for consumer rights.

The Council calls on traders to take responsibility and ensure they do not charge the new plastic bag levy prematurely.

Consumers are also reminded to check their receipts and ensure they are charged the correct plastic bag levy. The levy is currently $0.10 and can only be charged by traders with a Point of Sale system. The levy can only be charged on plastic bags with handles.

Traders are reminded that Section 3 Clause 4 Part (b) of the ECAL Act 2017 clearly stipulates that the charge: “be clearly and separately shown on a tax invoice, invoice or receipt issued for the purchase of any goods.”

Traders who fail to adhere to the ECAL Act 2017 or the implementation of the levy in the rightful manner may be subject to fines and penalties by the enforcement agency.

Since the implementation of the Plastic Bag Levy on 01 August, 2017 the Consumer Council of Fiji has recorded 76 complaints in relation to it.

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