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Waste charge ‘should be relative to profits’

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PLANS for a new waste charge on businesses should be revised so that firms pay an amount relative to their profits, a backbench Deputy has suggested.

Deputy Noel in front of sludge digesters at Bellozanne

Next year, Infrastructure Minister Eddie Noel plans to introduce a new levy, which will see businesses eventually charged £2.27 per cubic metre on 95 per cent of its water usage, as well as £150 per tonne of solid waste it disposes of.

Deputy Noel says that the new charges will help the environment by making businesses consider how to dispose of waste more carefully.

During Tuesday's States sitting, Deputy Sam Mézec said that after speaking to business owners during the summer recess, he found that many were sympathetic to Deputy Noel’s reasoning, but were nonetheless concerned that the charge was a flat rate and not reflective of profits.

‘What they found difficult about this proposed tax was that it would see these businesses charged an amount that bears no correspondence to their actual ability to pay it,’ said Deputy Mézec.

‘With income tax, the more you are able to pay, the more you pay. The less you are able to pay, the less you pay. That principle is not being applied to this tax.

‘Does the minister think that in the interests of, not just the environment, but also economic growth, that it would be good to go back to the drawing board and look at some way of charging these businesses so that they are contributing for the services that they are benefiting from but are doing so in way that is based on that business’ profitability – its viability – so that we don’t actually damage those businesses?’

Deputy Noel said, however, that he did not receive a mandate from the States to develop a levy in the way the Deputy was describing, when the introduction of the charge was approved during the Medium Term Financial Plan Addition debate last year.

‘I simply can’t do what he is asking me to do. I have no remit to come up with other ways of taxing businesses,’ said the minister.

‘I have the remit from this Assembly to introduce user-pays charges for businesses. That is what I am doing unless this Assembly changes its decision.’

The final details of the minster’s proposals to introduce the waste charge are due to be debated in the States on 10 October.

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