Not 'productive or correct' to put companies who pay carbon tax under public scrutiny: Masagos
SINGAPORE: Putting firms under public scrutiny by publishing company-specific data on the amount of carbon tax they are paying is not "productive or correct", said Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Monday (Feb 3) in Parliament.
Mr Masagos was responding to Member of Parliament Louis Ng who suggested in a supplementary question that publishing such data would allow public scrutiny on the companies which would in turn push their climate change policies to “move much faster”.
Mr Masagos replied that the intent of the carbon tax is “to provide an economy-wide pricing signal” and is not meant to give scrutiny to facilities or companies.
Describing the economy-wide data as a more useful indicator, he added: “We don’t find it productive or correct to put any company to scrutiny because they pay their carbon tax or because they are compelled by the Act to do so.
Mr Masagos said data on an economy-wide basis will be "a more useful indicator" for the Government and the public to know which sectors to concentrate on and how to move on them.
In his parliamentary question, Mr Ng had asked whether the Ministry will consider releasing a breakdown of revenue collected from each taxable facility when the data is available.
Mr Masagos said that the Government is unable to disclose this data due to data confidentiality requirements as provided for in the Carbon Pricing Act (CPA).
He added that carbon tax revenues will be published in the Government Budget Book annually.
The CPA, which has been in place since Jan 1, 2019, requires facilities in the manufacturing, power generation, waste and water management sectors that emit 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent or more annually to pay a carbon tax of S$5 per tonne, using carbon credits purchased from the National Environment Agency.
Mr Ng also asked whether publishing data based on facility type and size without naming the company would be possible, to identify which industries are contributing more to carbon emissions in Singapore.
Noting that the 40 companies affected by the CPA account for about 80 per cent of carbon emissions in Singapore, Mr Masagos added: “If you publish even by facilities, you can actually do your math and make inferences (on) who’s doing what, and I don’t think that’s what we want to get to.”
The CPA Bill was passed in Parliament in March 2018. At the time, Mr Masagos had said that the tax rate will be reviewed by 2023, with the intention of increasing it to between S$10 and S$15 per tonne by 2030.