Monday, 20 December 2010

Plastic fantastic

GEE, ain’t it great that the Minister for Finance and Personnel has gone all green?! No, he has not donned a Leprechaun outfit and volunteered to lead the St Patrick’s Day Parade in New York. Instead Sammy has declared for the environment, with his draft Budget announcement.

Yep, the man who is a climate change denier and tried to bar ads that called for carbon efficient practices has announced that he is minded to introduce a plastic bag tax.

Green activists paused before celebrating – for it is clear that Mr Wilson was not really interested in turtles swallowing plastic bags or hedgerows clogged with shopping detritus.
His motivation was to raise some extra revenue for the cash strapped DOE.

But, as humble commentators on the political winds that emerge from the collective superannuated rear ends of our politicians, we looked at the practice behind the theory.

Mr Wilson – and in turn the Executive on which he sits – thinks that the 15p tax per plastic bag will raise loads of cash. And, we as shoppers will hardly notice the pennies added to the bill; thus generating the money.

But to a certain extent this assumes that we will passively accept a new item on the shopping bill.

We think not!

Shoppers will suddenly remember all the ‘bags for life’ and hessian shopping bags that clutter up car boots and dusty cupboards under the stairs.

And plastic bags will become the minority holder for provisions, groceries and assorted essentials of life. This, of course, means that the projected revenue from the scheme will be reduced.

But, we suspect that there is an alternative explanation. Minister Wilson needs to appease some people. Not the environmental lobby, nor Tidy Northern Ireland. Instead it is his NI Executive colleagues in Sinn Féin. For it is clear that no sensible person here would agree to taxing texts from the ever-present mobile phones (have you ever seen a politician without a Blackberry or iPhone within quick draw range?). Thus Sammy needed to show the Shinners that he could do something that was all about raising money rather than just imposing cuts.

Who cares about the exact figures – it is the show that counts.

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