Although the government on numerous occasions discouraged the use of plastic, terming it a great threat to the environment, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in the 2022-23 budget has proposed withdrawing the existing 5% supplementary duty on all types of polythene and plastic bags.
The proposal, including withdrawal of duty on oven plastic bags and wrapping materials made of polyethylene, was placed to make the business environment friendlier and reduce the tax burden at the local manufacturing level, the finance minister said in his speech.
Green campaigners, however, denounced the proposal, saying it would encourage the use of environmentally hazardous single-use polybags.
"If it is accepted, the proposal will welcome single-use plastic and it will definitely go wrong for our environment," said Siddika Sultana, executive director of the Environment and Social Development Organization.
Siddika pointed out a Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change gazette that directed all the concerned to stop use of single-use plastic from coastal districts of Bangladesh by 2023.
While the Environment Conservation Act 1995 banned all kinds of poly bags, or any other article made of polyethylene or polypropylene, a provision in the law allowed for some forms of it to be used based on prior approval.
A 5% supplementary duty has been imposed on all forms of polythene and plastic bags since the 2018-19 fiscal.
Former finance minister AMA Muhith had proposed the duty to boost the use of jute bags and protect the environment.