SME Chamber

The Plastic Bags Issue

 Most retailers especially food stores, grocers, mini markets, supermarkets and vegetable and fish sellers have for long requested GRTU to cause Government to legislate against the practice of shop owners of giving plastic carrier bags for free to customers.

Rather than simply banning plastic bags Government has now imposed an Eco-Tax of €0.15c on each carrier bag and banned the free dispensing of carrier bags to customers.

GRTU has today held the first meeting with Senior Government officials to decide on the best practical way for government to impose this new system.

GRTU is insisting as follows:

Government proposed that each retailer registers for this purpose separately. We believe retailers are not to be forced to register specifically for this purpose, they are already registered for the VAT purpose, an should not be burdened with an extra registration. GRTU strongly believes in the "once only" principle: if already registered, why register again.

Importers and producers of plastic carrier bags will need a specific registration. Retailers who are caught with plastic carrier bags and cannot show evidence (through an invoice) of purchase will, after the appointed day, be subjected to the specific registration. Plastic bags today are subject to eco-tax and VAT at 18% and unless evidence is shown of purchase, retailers will be in breach of both eco-tax and VAT

After the appointed date Retailers will sell the plastic carrier bags in the same method selling is done on other products i.e. cost of sales, eco-tax (now 15cents) and VAT. The only difference is that carrier bags have to be itemised separately and clearly marked as paid. Retailers will if inspected need to supply evidence of purchase from registered suppliers. It is important for retailers to ensure that whoever supplies plastic carrier bags is registered as liability. Registration will otherwise fall on the retailer with all the resultant additional bureaucracy.

Retailers will not have to keep separate records as the VAT records are enough.

Serious problems will arise if retailers distribute plastic bags for free or sell plastic bags without punching the sales.

Importers and producers of will be liable to charge the VAT and Eco-Tax and to supply returns to the Commission of VAT/ Eco-Tax as is done today. The Commission will use all the new powers at law to ensure that the abuse of illicit importation and distribution of plastic carrier bags is held under strict control.

The Commission has the power at law to stop any vehicle in transit outside. Port Areas request documentation for all merchandise. The new law will impose stiff fines and confiscation of when plastic carrier bags are not backed by the correct documentation.

These rules apply only to carrier bags and not to packaging bags used for items like cheese, ham, fish, bread, etc… as long as these bags have no handles and cannot be termed as shopping carrier bags but wraps.

GRTU is continuing discussions to finalise an agreement that creates a fair level ground for retailers and producers but GRTU is determined not to accept that bona-fide retailers are loaded with additional costs and additional bureaucracy.

GRTU seeks any advice or comments in addition to what is being said here.

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