Consumer lobby Cofek wants non-plastic bags zero-rated

Thursday September 7 2017

Traditional baskets on display at Kariokor market in Nairobi. PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA | NMG

Traditional baskets on display at Kariokor market in Nairobi. PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA | NMG 

By BRIAN NGUGI
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A consumer lobby now wants the government to scrap tax on alternative carrier bags to make them affordable and enhance compliance with the plastic bag ban.

The Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) secretary-general Stephen Mutoro on Thursday said the cost of alternative carrier bags offered at supermarkets and retail outlets is prohibitive and out of reach of many Kenyans.

“At between Sh40 to Sh100, on average, the bags are way too expensive. The National Treasury needs to immediately zero-rate taxes on such alternative carrier bags to make them affordable,” said Mr Mutoro.

Large supermarket chains and retailers around the country have, since the ban into force on August 28, been selling shopping bags.

A gazette notice published in March imposed a ban on the use, manufacture and importation of plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging.

Those violating the ban on the use of plastic bags will face a fine of between Sh2 million and Sh4 million, or a jail term of between one and two years, or both.

Some of the alternative products customers are opting for include traditional baskets (kiondos), woven bags, papyrus and palm baskets.

There has been confusion in the enforcement of the plastic bags ban with some sectors such as garbage collectors asking for more time to comply with the law.