Nobody likes the imposition of new taxes or the increase in existing ones. Nothing is more certain to unite people against the government than new or higher taxes. Politicians kicked off the protests at the House energy committee on Tuesday when they were briefed about the carbon tax the government will introduce at the start of next year, as part of its commitments to the EU, in the framework of the Recovery and Resilience Plan.
People were aware that there would be a cost to the so-called Green Transition that politicians have been paying lip service to and promising to implement as their contribution to the fight against climate change, but they never mentioned specifics. Only in the last week have they become aware of the cost of the transition, the implementation of which is set to start next year. At present, the government is still looking at ideas for the carbon tax and public consultations will follow.
Green taxation is aimed at dealing with the “weaknesses in the management of waste, water resources and climate change,” said an official from the finance ministry, explaining that tax reform would lead to 12 per cent reduction in emissions. One of the purposes of green tax reform was to encourage people to change their environmental habits rather than to burden them with new taxes. Yet we will be burdened with new taxes even if this is not the intention of the government.
The announcement could not have come at a worse time, with the government resisting pressure from parties, media and interest groups to cut the fuel tax and subsidise electricity bills in order to help people deal with inflation. Now they know that fuel tax will rise rather than fall, because 49 per cent of emissions are from the transport sector and these must be reduced. And the government hopes to reduce them by taxation, although there is no guarantee it will succeed.
In effect, people will be paying for the failure of successive governments to take ‘green action’. It is scandalous that EAC power stations are still using mazut, that nothing has been done about electricity storage which would have allowed us to maximise the use of renewable energy sources and the public transport network remains basic. Recycling has not been adequately promoted, while at the big waste treatment plant in Pentakomo, which was supposed to end the burying of household waste, household waste is being buried after being ‘treated’.
We never heard any of the politicians, currently protesting about the carbon tax, warning that the green policies were half-baked and ineffective or that the EAC was protecting its monopolistic power rather than taking action that would lead to cleaner energy. Next to nothing was done in this regard, while the fines for emissions were passed on to the EAC’s customers. Everyone will now pay for this lamentable failure of governments through the green tax.