SA to pay billions in green taxes

Johannesburg – National Treasury’s coffers will receive billions this year and next year, thanks to three so-called green taxes being levied on companies and taxpayers.

The biggest of the three green taxes is the environmental levy of 2c/kWh that Eskom pays over to treasury.

This was a tax on electricity generated from non-renewable sources like coal and nuclear energy, said treasury spokesperson Kershia Singh.

Where Eskom generated electricity from renewable sources, such as wind and solar power, the utility would not be liable for the tax, she said.

Eskom generated almost all its electricity from non-renewable sources like coal, and consequently had to pay R3.7bn to treasury this year – this while it had an almost R45bn deficit in terms of financing its capital construction programme.

The levy on Eskom would go to the fiscus to fund general government priorities, said Singh.

The other green taxes that were upsetting business leaders was the tax on plastic bags, which was introduced six years ago, as well as the new green tax being levied on all new passenger vehicles from September 1.

Business leaders are concerned because the money was not in fact being applied for green purposes.

Imperial group chief executive Hubert Brody said a green tax such as that being levied on motor cars in South Africa was simply another burden hiking the cost of living.

Taxes such as these, he said, should be channelled to green projects such as research programmes for green vehicles.

The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers (Naamsa) expected that this new tax would add about 2.5% to the price of a new vehicle, and would present treasury with about R1.6bn a year.

As far as plastic bag taxes were concerned, treasury had raked in about R360m between 2004 and 2009.

Singh said that this year R140m would be collected and next year R150m.

Of this, she said, R30m would be used this year and about R35m next year for environmentally-friendly projects.

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