The HKSAR government announced its modifications to the implementation of the municipal solid waste (MSW) charging scheme. The government pointed out that it would expand the use of pre-paid designated garbage bags, to remove the transitional arrangement of bin counting. In addition, the government proposed to provide a subsidy of $10 per person per month for all recipients of the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme upon the commencement of the implementation of MSW charging. The DAB welcomes the overall improvements to the MSW scheme announced by the government.
The DAB feels that expanding the use of pre-paid designated garbage bags can greatly simplify the procedures for the MSW charging scheme. Both merchants and waste collection companies no longer need to deal with administrative issues on top of charging for MSW collection, and improve the efficiency of fee collection. At the same time both sides can cut down on operating costs, killing two birds with one stone. As for removing the transitional arrangement of bin counting, it can help cut down on the administrative difficulties in how the costs should be shared among households. It is convenient to ordinary residents. Finally, the government will provide all CSSA recipients with a $10 subsidy per month for the MSW charging scheme, which will certainly cut down on the financial burden of those on CSSA and deals partly with one of the DAB’s proposals to the government.
However, the DAB feels that a number of issues still need to be addressed regarding the MSW charging scheme. First of all, currently the government has not lowered the MSW costs from the threshold it set in March 2017. A family of four needs to pay $33 to $51 every month for MSW collection. We feel that this price is too high and will represent a significant financial burden on grassroots families who are not recipients of the CSSA. Also, SMEs may need to spend up to $500 per month or even more, up to over $1000 per month for MSW collection, and this will adversely affect their economic competitiveness. They will then put these costs on the shoulders of customers and consumers, and we hope that the government will take into account the financial burden on the grassroots and SMEs when setting the threshold for MSW collection fees.
Second, the DAB emphasizes the promotion of fairness when setting the threshold for fees and costs. Currently the policy announcement does not mention anything about improving the recycling facilities for each district. If the government simply does what it has always done and collects MSW fees from the people without preparing proper recycling facilities in each district to provide proper choices for residents, it basically forces everyone to pay for MSW disposal. This is neither an ideal or fair method of MSW fee collection.
Also, the DAB feels that the government should follow strict enforcement of law when promoting the MSW charging scheme. It should target and eliminate illegal waste disposal, especially in rural and outlying areas. Finally, the DAB emphasizes that the government should ensure that the fees collected should be “dedicated-fund-for-dedicated-use”, spent locally to encourage environmentally friendly practices such as the recycling industry and its long term development. The funds should help establish a complete recycling industrial chain, and we hope that the government will be able to absorb our proposals and further improve the MSW charging scheme.
Media Inquiries: DAB Legislative Councilor Gary Chan (7770-0829)