Monday, April 22, 2024
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Stakeholders rattled by higher excise duties on plastic

Adib Noor

The cost of takeaway food, shopping, and the operations of home businesses and food stall owners have been impacted with taxes on plastics, which include products in all primary forms, plastic bags, and disposable food containers.

The items have been subjected to a BND5 per kilogramme excise tax with the recent update to Customs import and excise duties by the Ministry of Finance and Economy, which came into effect on May 17, replacing the previous three-per-cent tax.

A sales representative of a plastic and container store said the establishment recently adjusted the prices of plastic bags. The store plans to introduce new pricing for different items gradually, beginning with plastic bags and progressing to plastic containers and other related products.

In yesterday’s Opinion page of the Borneo Bulletin, a reader recounted her experience ordering from a restaurant and being charged 20 cents for each plastic bag provided.

Similarly, a vendor at the Jerudong Wet Market, said he had no choice but to charge customers 20 cents per plastic bag.

A ‘New Price’ sign on display at a plastic supply store in Serusop. PHOTO: ADIB NOOR

Public sentiment was widely expressed in response to the recent post on Borneo Bulletin’s Instagram account.

The majority of comments shared a similar view, emphasising the importance of normalising the use of recycled bags or containers as alternatives to single-use plastics.

Employee in a private delivery service Siti said customers have been inquiring about potential additional charges for food takeout delivery. Such charges have not been confirmed as of yesterday.

“As someone who has worked in the food and beverage industry, I can identify two scenarios in response to this issue: Bussinesses will either absorb the increased costs and adjust menu prices accordingly, or seek reputable suppliers offering standardised pricing for eco-friendly bulk packaging. The former approach seems to be the prevailing trend while the latter would help small- and medium-sized businesses reduce their expenses.”

Meanwhile, a customer noticed another potential issue in vendors passing on the costs to buyers.

“I was shocked to read extra charges imposed on plastic bags as published in yesterday’s Opinion page.

“One 50-pack of plastic bags costs roughly BND2 to BND4, subject to size. If a vendor charges customers 20 cents per plastic bag regardless of bag size, they can make a significant profit,” they said.

They added, “Isn’t it the vendor’s duty to provide bags when people buy goods from them? It’s not just the matter of paying for extra charges, but also the customer feeling cheated.”