19 January 2005

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Eco-Contribution rates changed
By Julian Manduca

Environment Minister George Pullicino yesterday gave the go-ahead for a Legal Notice to adjust some of the rates for eco-contribution that were published at the end of 2004.
Pullicino and Parliamentary Secretary Tonio Fenech had already announced that the eco-contributions for plastic bags would be reduced from Lm10.67 per kilo to six cents per plastic bag, but additional adjustments were made yesterday.
As was widely expected, adjustments were made to the rates for computers and their accessories. Up until the time of going to press the Legal Notice had not been published, but this newspaper is informed that only computers, printers and monitors are to be subject to the eco-contribution, freeing accessories such as keyboards, mice and other computer related paraphernalia. The eco-contribution rates for computer accessories were heavily criticised by importers and traders as well as opposition spokesperson Leo Brincat (see below).
Changes were also expected for shotgun cartridges with the expected change allowing clay pigeon ones to be exempt, even if these could be used for shooting birds.
The Malta Financial and Business Times is also informed that the new Legal Notice will be retroactive to 1 January 2005. This will mean that all those who have been charging eco-contribution at the previous rates will now only be expected to pay the new, lower, rates, or be given a refund on the higher ones. Those that will have lost out will be the consumers who have had to pay the higher rates from 1 January to date.
Supermarkets and shops are well-known to have started charging for plastic bags even if most of these were old stocks and not subject to the eco-contribution. In the case of computers and accessories too, while several companies charged, others did not. The GRTU’s Secretary General Vince Farrugia is on record stating that several companies, including members of the GRTU have taken advantage of an unclear situation but there has been no official reaction from consumer organisations.

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Editor: Saviour Balzan
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