WHILE political leaders are battling over the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, Friends and Fishermen of the Sea (FFOS) are calling for the Beverage Containers Bill to be laid in Parliament.
FFOS’ corporate secretary Gary Aboud said the bill will play a major role in creating thousands of “green jobs” in the country.
Aboud said the establishment of the Green Fund by this Government has numerous benefits but more was needed to protect the environment. He said if the Beverage Containers Bill was implemented, the Government would not only be protecting the environment but would also save money.
With a direct request to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Aboud said: “There are no incentives for recycling paper, cardboard, glass or plastic and there should. Prime Minister, you should ensure recycling incentives, as well as lay this Beverage Containers Bill in Parliament, and at all costs you should pass this bill before the end of this term.”
Last year, the bill, which has sat on a shelf for 16 years, was expected to be laid in Parliament, but it was not. Yesterday, minister in the Environment Ministry Ramona Ramdial said it was ready to be laid in Parliament either this year or early next year. She said it was not one of the Government’s top priorities, with the Constitution (Amendment) Bill and other crime-fighting bills taking precedence.
Ramdial said the reason there was a delay in laying the bill in Parliament was because there was still work that needed to be done.
“We had some problems with the TTMA (Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association). They were working out and fine-tuning some of the clauses in the bill with respect to the incentives and the fines. The money issues were being worked out between the TTMA and other stakeholders involved. Everything has been completed. We have gone through all of the stages,” said Ramdial.
When asked if there was a possibility of any controversial issues that may arise, like the addendum with the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill, Ramdial responded: “No. From my knowledge and from what I have been exposed to with respect to the ministry in piloting the bill, I really don’t see a hiccup.”
In previous discussion on the bill, Environment Minister Ganga Singh had said: “From an economic standpoint, the bill provides opportunities for bottle collectors and other such informal sectors to earn income and sustain their livelihoods, thereby contributing to reduced unemployment.
“Upon implementation, we will see reduced production costs to firms, from the re-use of returned glass beverage containers, and foreign exchange income from any exports of beverage containers, either for recycling or from the sale of actual material or products derived from these recycled materials,” he added. According to information from the Parliament’s website, the Beverage Containers Bill was first introduced in the Senate on November 20, 2012 by Minister Singh.
Its second reading was on November 27, 2012. The bill lapsed in July 2013.