Freeze sale of plastic bags in Sabah: Environmental group

Freeze sale of plastic bags in Sabah: Environmental group
Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun responded to critics regarding the search and rescue operations saying that the rescue personnel have been actively doing their best.

KOTA KINABALU - An environmental group is crossing swords with a state minister over funds from the sale of plastic bags to shoppers.

The Sabah Environmental Protection Association (Sepa) wants a freeze on the collection of any money until all the funds collected since 2011 have been accounted for.

The freeze, Sepa said in a statement, was required after the Environmental Action Centre (EAC), which was supposed to use the proceeds for educational campaigns, was been closed down by the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry due to a lack of budget.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun has, however, said he sees no reason to suspend the Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) campaign introduced in 2011 where shoppers are charged 20 sen for every plastic bag on Saturdays to Sundays.

He said he had directed a revamp of the EAC management committee to make it more transparent and to have better financial procedures.

"As far as I know, all money collected from the sale of the plastic bags has been accounted for. The only issue at hand is the delay in the issuance of EAC's audited accounts," he said.

The EAC was set up as joint initiative between Sepa and the Sabah state government in 1997.

Sepa secretary Julia Hwong claimed last week that they had not seen EAC's accounts since 2011 and had lodged a police report on the matter.

Subsequently, state Environmental Protection Department (EPD) director Datuk Yabi Yangkat said his department was willing to obtain the services of an independent auditor to go through EAC's accounts.

Yabi said over the past few years, the ministry had appointed an auditor to go through EAC's accounts however, Sepa had terminated the auditor's services two years ago.

He said the ministry and his department would co-operate with the police in any investigation into the accounts.

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