Higher taxes, but no waste man­age­ment reg­u­la­tions in place?

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

A plethora of ar­ti­cles have been writ­ten on the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions and al­le­ga­tions con­cern­ing the Hel­lec­tor scam, the com­pany op­er­at­ing the Koshi Solid Waste Plant and Marathounda Waste Man­age­ment Fa­cil­ity. Higher waste vol­umes were re­ported over an over-charg­ing scam, which re­sulted in higher charges for con­sumers and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

This re­port gives an over­view on the pro­ce­dures of waste man­age­ment in Cyprus and its cor­re­la­tion to other Euro­pean coun­tries, with sim­i­lar pop­u­la­tion and Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct (GDP). It draws ex­clu­sively from of­fi­cial gov­ern­ment doc­u­men­ta­tion and sta­tis­tics from the Euro­pean Union (Euro­stat).

Ac­cord­ing to a se­nior mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cial in Li­mas­sol, the reg­u­la­tions are based on the Euro­pean Di­rec­tive 2008/98/EC, the most re­cent Waste Frame­work Di­rec­tive of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment and of the Euro­pean Coun­cil of Novem­ber 19, 2008. This is a Di­rec­tive on how waste should be man­aged with­out en­dan­ger­ing pub­lic health and harm­ing the en­vi­ron­ment. Ac­cord­ing to the Euro­pean Union, the tar­gets should be reached by 2020, pre­par­ing for re­use and re­cy­cling of cer­tain waste ma­te­ri­als by house­holds.

The EU’s Sixth En­vi­ron­ment Ac­tion Pro­gramme (20022012) iden­ti­fies waste preven­tion and man­age­ment as one of the top pri­or­i­ties. Its pri­mary ob­jec­tive is to en­sure that eco­nomic growth does not lead to in­creas­ing amounts of waste. EU man­age­ment poli­cies are im­ple­mented in or­der to re­duce the en­vi­ron­men­tal and health im­pacts of waste and

im­prove Europe’s re­source ef­fi­ciency. Stud­ies have been con­ducted in each Euro­pean coun­try on waste man­age­ment.

Re­fer­ring to the waste vol­ume in Cyprus, 2012 data ex­tracted from Euro­stat shows the ton­nage fig­ure is 2,086,000 tonnes for a pop­u­la­tion of 865,878. The waste in­cludes min­ing and quar­ry­ing; man­u­fac­tur­ing; en­ergy; con­struc­tion; and, other eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties. By com­par­i­son in Malta, with a pop­u­la­tion of 419,455, to­tal waste gen­er­a­tion is 1,452,000 tonnes, which is 30% lower than in Cyprus, but half the pop­u­la­tion size. House­hold waste gen­er­a­tion in Malta is 2.9 times lower than in Cyprus.

In 2012, the pro­por­tion be­tween the land­fill rates and re­cy­cling in Cyprus was re­ported to be 79% and 21%.

Ac­cord­ing to the Euro­pean Union, the in­vest­ment in mu­nic­i­pal waste re­cy­cling is low. By 2020, the re­cy­cled waste must reach 50%, thus, more in­vest­ment should be in­curred in the next com­ing years. In or­der to re­duce the land­fill rates in Cyprus, im­prove­ments are ex­pected to oc­cur in 2016. Im­ple­men­ta­tion of a plant has been ini­ti­ated (as con­firmed by a se­nior of­fi­cial in the En­vi­ron­men­tal depart­ment) for the selec­tive col­lec­tion for pa­per and or­ganic waste, in an area called Pen­takomo near Li­mas­sol.

The rea­sons that Cyprus did not reach the EU ob­jec­tives so far was due to the fact that, there were lack of incentives to man­age waste ac­cord­ing to the waste hi­er­ar­chy; in­suf­fi­cient sep­a­rate col­lec­tion of waste; no devel­op­ments in in­fras­truc­ture and col­lec­tion sys­tems; no devel­op­ments in in­fras­truc­ture and col­lec­tion sys­tem to di­vert biodegrad­able waste from dis­posal; and, lack of co-or­di­na­tion be­tween the dif­fer­ent ad­min­is­tra­tive lev­els.

Ac­cord­ing to a se­nior of­fi­cer in Li­mas­sol mu­nic­i­pal­ity, the costs on the ton­nage are not recorded, thus over­all ex­penses and in­come are not as­sessed. The mu­nic­i­pal­ity es­ti­mates the tax­a­tion of in­dus­trial and house­hold units with min­i­mum and max­i­mum tar­iffs. The taxes col­lected and recorded are au­dited by the Min­istry of Fi­nance.

Fol­low­ing the mu­nic­i­pal waste tax, a new in­crease in waste tax was an­nounced in 2013, due to the in­crease in the waste vol­ume. Ac­cord­ing to the Tax­a­tion depart­ment, the Town Hall in each city as­sesses the over­all ex­penses of the waste man­age­ment, and al­lo­cates the costs to the tax­pay­ers. Tax­a­tion on waste is as­sessed on the size of the house­hold units and in­dus­trial units.

Ac­cord­ing to 2015 data of the Ni­cosia Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, due to the re­duc­tion of the an­nual sub­si­dies of the state to the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, the Town Hall has de­cided to in­crease the rates. The high prices are a bur­den to the tax­payer as ac­cord­ing to con­sumer or­gan­i­sa­tions, the amount of tax paid does not re­flect the waste of the house­hold pro­duced.

Af­ter dis­cus­sion with the staff of the lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, the tax levy is fixed at each unit. The high­est amount that is charged is 170 Eu­ros for house­holds. Ac­cord­ing to the tax rate of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, the size of the house­hold is cru­cial to de­cide the charges on the tax­a­tion of waste. If a house­hold is smaller than 250 square me­tres, the tax levy is 159 Eu­ros.

Spe­cific re­duc­tions are al­lowed for dis­abled peo­ple, the un­em­ployed, peo­ple with health prob­lems and stu­dents.

The tax leg­is­la­tion of Ar­ti­cle 9, para. 65 of 1996, states the amount of mu­nic­i­pal waste tax that has to be paid by house­hold, pro­fes­sional and in­dus­trial units on an an­nual ba­sis

The ta­ble above shows the tax­a­tion of each unit, with a max­i­mum amount per unit taken from the leg­is­la­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the tax depart­ment of Li­mas­sol mu­nic­i­pal­ity, it is be­lieved that the mu­nic­i­pal waste tax should be charged ac­cord­ing to the square me­tres of each unit with a pro­gres­sive sys­tem, with a min­i­mum and a max­i­mum rate. In ad­di­tion, incentives should be of­fered to re­duce the land­fill waste. This should be achieved by in­dus­trial re­cy­cling, and en­cour­ag­ing the pub­lic to re­cy­cle. New laws should be im­ple­mented to en­force re­cy­cling and pre­vent the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of waste.

Euro­pean Di­rec­tives are eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble, as well as waste man­age­ment re­ports and sta­tis­tics per­formed by the Euro­pean Union. How­ever, while re­search­ing this ar­ti­cle on waste man­age­ment in tax­a­tion, ex­tract­ing in­for­ma­tion was dif­fi­cult. The tax leg­is­la­tions in Cyprus was very hard to ob­tain as there was a re­luc­tance from pub­lic of­fi­cials to co­op­er­ate. Peo­ple were in­ter­viewed, and some leg­is­la­tions in hard copy were pro­vided. I in­quired where I could ob­tain in­for­ma­tion on the leg­is­la­tions, and they gave me a spe­cific site which was un­ob­tain­able.

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