Progress on plastic bags bill

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2008, 12:00am

Lawmakers have finally started to scrutinise a bill that could lead to a 50 HK cent levy on plastic shopping bags after lobbying by the environment minister and green groups.

At the sixth meeting of the committee considering the Product Eco Responsibility Bill, legislators began to go through it clause by clause. Earlier this month they had threatened to stop scrutinising the bill if environment officials failed to address issues relating to the nature and scope of the proposed legislation.

Members of the Liberal Party yesterday denied claims they had tried to stall the bill.

'It is grossly false that we Liberals are trying to stall it,' legislator Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen said.

One issue worrying lawmakers is that the bill gives the environment chief power to impose levies or fees on other products, like tyres and appliances, but gives few details. Lawmakers fear that if they endorsed the bill, their power to scrutinise these future additions might be affected.

Progress at the bills committee was made after environment minister Edward Yau Tang-wah lobbied political parties over the past two weeks, while four green groups yesterday urged legislators to endorse the bill swiftly.

Mr Yau assured lawmakers yesterday that they would continue to have power to scrutinise any future amendments to include more products under the bill.

But he still refused to spell out a timetable on introducing producer-responsibility for other products, stressing the bill, though not perfect, would at least push forward the plastic bags levy.