The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) sitting last Friday heard that government has not collected plastic levy funds from businesses since its introduction in 2007.
Parliament passed the plastic bag amendment to the Waste Management Act in August 2006 and the new law was implemented the following year.
However, the money that should have funded environmental initiatives is only benefiting businesses since there are no adequate collection structures within government.
Committee member, Shawn Nthaile requested the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism to explain about the status of the plastic bag levy.
He also wanted to know how the accumulated money would be recovered when the collection starts.
In response, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Elias Magosi said the collection of the money from the levy was supposed to be done by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
“As much as the levy was passed in 2007, collection of the money has not happened,” he confirmed.
Magosi explained that the government initially introduced the levy in order to reduce the use of plastic bags on account of environmental concerns.
However, he noted that they have engaged government and other stakeholders to consider a total ban on the use of plastic bags, just like in other countries where plastic carryout bags were banned.
The accounts officer also suggested that there must be other better ways of packaging that are environmentally friendly.
Shoppers in Botswana began paying between 15 and 25 thebe for the bags they get from supermarkets in 2007. Currently, some shops charge as much as 50 thebe for a bag.
The levy followed the introduction of the Plastic Carrier Bags and Flat Bags Specification by the Botswana Bureau of Standards.
The law, which came into force on May 12, 2007, requires shops to use bags of a thickness of not less 24 microns.