Insider / ΚΥΠΕ
Gaps in the process of controlling the payment of environmental fees during the import and circulation of tires in the Cypriot market, the Audit Committee of the Parliament found today, during the presentation of the report of the Audit Service.
During the discussion, it was found that the problem is directly related to the contracts of the companies that took over the management of the port of Limassol, which are not obliged to control the environmental fee before the tire loads are released on the market.
The report prepared in the context of environmental audits of the Audit Office highlighted both the problem of incomplete registration of tires and collection of environmental fees in the port of Limassol, as well as the problem of illegal dumping of tires in inappropriate places, as well as issues related to with the management of the tires by the Vasilikos cement factory (which has undertaken their utilization for energy production).
The representatives of the two collective tire management systems, which are responsible for transporting them to the Vasilikos cement plant, in their positions during the meeting, agreed that the big problem lies in the lack of control of the environmental fee in the port of Limassol.
As they explained, 65% of the tires come from third countries, so the cargoes are subject to customs control and the payment of the environmental fee is checked there, before they go on the market. On the contrary, as they said, for 35% of the tires, coming from EU member states, the management companies are not obliged to control the payment of the environmental fee (according to the contract with the Ministry of Transport) and a gap is created in the management of the tires, since these can not be driven for management in the cement plant.
The Chairman of the Committee and Member of Parliament of DIKO, Zacharias Koulias, underlined that in a period of one month the possibility for control of imports from Community countries should be examined, through the import declaration (manifesto), which indicates the type of cargo, since it is at the disposal of all organizations and services, through the system of the Port Authority. “It is necessary”, as he said, “creation of a specialized control mechanism by the Department of Environment” for this purpose. He also noted that it is good to find alternative ways of managing the tires, in addition to their utilization in the Vasilikos cement plant for energy production.
DISY MP, Rita Theodorou Superman, said that the Department of Environment has scientifically trained staff, who “exaggerate themselves, but need support because the service is understaffed.” He concluded that once a problem was identified, a solution would have to be found.
AKEL MP, Costas Costa, stressed that the issue should be addressed by the Ministry of Transport, which signed the contract with the management companies in the port of Limassol, leaving gaps in the control of tire loads. “We have heard that at least € 100,000 a year is lost, that is, half a million in the five years since the contract came into force, but no one is sweating,” he said.
He added that the ecological catastrophe is also great, as those who escape the environmental tax, discard the old tires in the countryside, creating illegal garbage dumps. He argued that the issue could be regulated by amending the legislation, so that the managing companies, as well as the Port Authority, are obliged to control the cargoes for the collection of environmental fees.
In her statements after the meeting of the Committee, AKEL MP, Irini Charalambidou, reminded that the Legal Service had clarified from the beginning that the contracts signed for the management of the port of Limassol by private companies, had not been audited and had data that were in to the detriment of the public interest.
“One such element,” he said, “is the fact that contracts do not include a safeguard condition for controlling the payment of an environmental fee before the tires are placed on the market.” Concluding, he stressed that the omission was identified from January 2017 and that in these 5 years a control valve had to be found by the Ministry. Transport.
The Member of Parliament for Ecologists, Charalambos Theopemptou, described the contract with the companies in the port of Limassol as tragic. He noted the need to find a second tire management company, in addition to Vasiliko, citing companies interested in cracking fuel. He also raised the issue of operation and state burner for such purposes.
Additional costs for the state, due to an “unreliable” tire transport company
Special mention was made of the problem created by the cooperation of the state with the company Envirotrans, for the transport of tire load that was not able to manage the Royal, in the area of the quarry Latouros.
According to the official of the Department of Environment, Chrystalla Nisiotou, “the company proved to be unreliable”, as tires that did not correspond to coupons (evidence of environmental tax) were found in the area, which raises suspicions that the company transported tires that were not included in agreement.
“The competent authority undertook to remove the problem and request the amount from the person in charge, as it was done”, explained Ms. Nisiotou, adding that the state paid the cost of moving the tires from the quarry to Vasiliko. For this reason, the state took the company to court. According to the State Guarantee Commission, however, if this amount is not recovered, it will constitute illegal state aid.
On behalf of the Vasilikos cement factory, George Savva claimed that the stock of tires that have not yet been managed, resulted from the accumulation of material from the Latouros quarry and will take some years to eliminate.
For its part, the Audit Office suggested, in order to address the problem of accumulation of tire stock, not to pay the fee in advance to the Vasilikos cement plant, but to keep part of it until the completion of management. Typically, the Auditor General stated that “the problem is that the person in charge is paid for what he has to do, before he does it”.
The Audit Office noted that for the tires that are in stock in the cement plant, the company received a management fee of half a million euros, without having managed their management, which, as he said, may involve risks. “We are concerned about the huge amount that has accumulated,” said a spokesman for the agency, “as fires are raging,” adding that the fee for tires that may have been burned by mistake should be returned.
As pointed out by the Audit Office, the environmental fee is an amount that is transferred to the consumer, through the cost of purchasing the tires, and varies depending on the size, from € 0.80 to € 48.