By Catherine Kabugho
The State Minister of Environment, Hon. Mary Goretti Kitutu Kimono, has asked Parliament to give the Ministry powers to regulate the ban of plastics.
This follows a recommendation from the report of the Committee on Natural Resources on the National Environment Management Act, 2017 to ban polythene bags below 30 microns.
Committee Chair, Kiwanuka Keefa, said the decision to ban the polythene bags below 30 microns was agreed upon by stakeholders in the environment sector, including the National Environment Management Authority, Uganda Manufacturers Association, environmental activists, Kampala City Traders Association and all those involved in the trade of plastics.
Keefa Kiwanuka made the proposal when Parliament was considering the Bill on Tuesday, 13 November 2018.
“The committee observed that there is increasing proliferation of plastic and plastic waste, and that whereas plastic is a threat to the environment, the country cannot do without plastics in a short time. The Committee further observed that laws should not be passed in vain and whatever is passed should be in line with living experiences,” said Keefa Kiwanuka.
The Minister however, said that the Ministries for Environment and Trade agreed that there should be no threshold on the ban of polythene bags.
“We need Parliament to allow us to regulate the manufacture and use of polythene bags. These issues are also pertinent to the globe,” said Kimono.
Hon. Medard Lubega Sseggona (DP, Busiro County East) however, said that the Ministry does not have the powers to ban the use and manufacture of plastics.
“We cannot allow the Minister to ban by regulation. In implementation, the Minister makes the procedural and subsidiary guidelines. For that reason, therefore, it can only be the wisdom of Parliament to pronounce itself on the microns, then the minister can only come in with regulations,” said Sseggona.
Hon. Paul Mwiru (FDC, Jinja Municipality) proposed a sanction of strict liability on the manufacture and use of polythene bags.
“People are not minding about the environment; they are only minding about making money. There are industries that have been put in place to defeat this law,” said Mwiru.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, said she would name a team of MPs to further scrutinize the proposal to ban polythene bags below 30 microns.
“I need to study this matter further. As I study it, I will also name a small group to scrutinize it further,” said Kadaga.
The National Environment Bill, 2017 seeks to repeal the National Environment Act Cap.153 and replace it with a law that conforms to existing Government policies and other relevant laws.