KUCHING: The Sarawak government has shelved its proposal to impose the so-called "five per cent tyre tax" on sales of new tyres in the state to finance the treatment of used and discarded tyres.
"The state cabinet has said 'no' to the proposed sales tax. Not for the next three years starting next month.
"After that, we will again review the policy," state Environment and Public Health Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh said yesterday when asked on the government's decision on the proposal since the cabinet had already picked a company to carry out the treatment late last year.
The proposal was first mooted eight years ago.
"The government has made the decision to appoint a company to carry out the tyre treatment, and it will be doing it free of charge for the first three years," he said during his press conference on the Chief Minister's 2010 Environmental Award that will be held in November.
Wong said the economic scale had shown that the company would not be needing any financial assistance in the first three years.
"We also do not want to impose new burdens on the consumers."
He said tyre disposal was a big environmental issue in Sarawak.
"They throw them (used tyres) everywhere -- in the rivers, jungles and by the roadside."
"Timber camps are also discarding their tyres in our jungles.
"Collecting these tyres is not easy. It is an environmental issue that we have to tackle urgently, but without burdening the people."
Wong said the problem of indiscriminate discarding of used tyres was more severe in the rural areas than in urban centres.
Sarawak imports about 15,000 tonnes of tyres annually with one tonne being the equivalent to about 150 pieces of saloon car tyres.
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