Bulgaria delays plastic bags tax due to crisis
SOFIA Dec 16 (Reuters) - Bulgaria delayed on Tuesday plans to levy a tax on plastic shopping bags, aimed at reducing plastic waste, on fears that the tax would burden businesses too much during the global financial crisis.
The environment ministry had planned to charge producers and importers of plastics bags a tax of 0.20 levs ($0.14) a bag from 2009. The average wholesale price of a bag is 0.02 levs.
"The environment ministry takes into account that a new tax will be a burden for businesses in the current situation and there is a risk of shutdowns and job losses," it said in a statement, but did not say how long the tax would be delayed.
The ministry said it would consider other steps to limit the use of plastic bags which environmentalists say can take up to 1,000 years to disintegrate and pose a threat to marine life, birds and other animals.
Bulgaria, which has largely escaped trouble in the financial sector, is seen hurt by foreign investors fleeing emerging markets and exports falling due to weaker demand in recession-hit Europe.
About two million plastic bags are used every month in the European Union newcomer and the Association of Polymer Producers said the new tax would have led to the shutdown of 40 firms in Bulgaria and leave about 2,000 people without jobs. (Reporting by Tsvetelia Ilieva; Editing by Louise Ireland)
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