Following up on the ban on the importation and use of Styrofoam products, the government will, this year, implement a number of policies aimed at further protecting the environment.
Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves said in the Budget Address on Monday that this government intends to deepen its commitment to environmental stewardship through four additional measures:
The government plans to curtail severely the free availability of single-use plastic bags in supermarkets and other retail centres, while promoting the use of reusable or recyclable bags.
It will also ban the importation of used automobiles over 12 years old, and increase by EC$1,000 the surcharge for vehicles over 4 years old.
Gonsalves said that his government will limit phosphate run-off by incentivising the importation of phosphate-free detergents, which is less damaging to aquatic life.
The government will also be regulating the manner in which refuse and grey water is disposed of by businesses and residences, particularly in the vicinity of coastal areas.
“We are not unmindful of the fact that the problem of localised sewage disposal in other developed tourist destinations has been sufficiently severe so as to prompt various logistical and public relations challenges. We hope, in the development of our tourist product, to pre-empt or minimise some of the unfortunate environmental side effects of mass tourism,” Gonsalves said.
He said that, as with the Styrofoam ban, the public and the business community can expect to enjoy sufficient consultation, notice and education on these environmental measures before they are implemented.
The Styrofoam ban came into full effect at the end of January.
The finance minister, who also has ministerial responsibility for sustainable development, said that though not perfect, he is proud of the level of implementation so far and thanked the business sector and consumers for their willing acceptance of the measure.
“The amount of garbage clogging our drains and waterways has been markedly reduced, and the ecological benefits are undeniable. Of course, challenges in the implementation will persist as we all adapt to these new regulations, but I am confident that we will solve these challenges in the same spirit of cooperation and goodwill that we have demonstrated thus far,” Gonsalves said.