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Government Under Attack Due To High Environmental Product Fees On Solar Panels

Tamás Székely 2015.01.13.

The Hungarian government has been harshly criticized recently both by solar industry experts and opposition parties over the planned introduction of “extremely high levies” on solar panels. Owners of such devices will be required to pay HUF 114/kg of total panels in environmental product fees from 2015, which is five times more than the EU average,  the Hungarian Solar Industry Union (MANAP) said. Referring to an EU guideline, Hungary’s Agriculture Ministry said that solar panels, once discarded, are considered as hazardous waste. A product should not only be considered in terms of its active life but also in view of its role after it is scrapped, and added that collection and recirculation costs of electronic waste were extremely high, the ministry said. EU members are required to collect in electronic waste an equivalent of 45% of the electronic goods sold in that country in 2016, while the same ratio is expected to increase to an annual 65% in by 2019, it noted.

However, at the weekend opposition parties LMP, Together and PM protested against the government’s plan. Green LMP called it “unacceptable”. A spokesman of the Together (Együtt) party called on President János Áder to intervene. Dialogue for Hungary (PM) said the plan was among the “the darkest” of the Orbán government. The leftist opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) said the environmental product fee favours gas importers only and it should be abolished. Lawmaker Lajos Oláh said MET Zrt, which has an “untraceable ownership structure” and the Paks II project team are among beneficiaries of the environmental fee on solar panels. By scaling back green energy, the need for the Paks nuclear plant can be better justified, he said.

The radical nationalist JOBBIK party has also called on the government to withdraw solar panels from an environmental product fee, saying that the tax would be “yet another nail in the coffin” of Hungary’s economy and energy independence. Lajos Kepli, a lawmaker of the opposition party, said in a statement that the government had made needless “luxury investments” and had pursued a reckless economic policy, and such taxes were desperate measures to plug gaps in the budget. The environmental product tax, which the Jobbik MP called a “tax on sunlight”, would, he said, make solar panels several thousand forints more expensive. He also called for the lowest (5%) VAT rate to apply to the solar panels.

via MTI and photo: