NEMA Introduces Express Penalties

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The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has announced the commencement of an administrative penalty scheme for environment breaches effective 1st April 2023.

The announcement was made by the Authority’s Executive Director, Dr. Barirega Akankwasa, at the Uganda Media Center in Kampala on February 8th 2023.

He said that the administrative penalty scheme for environmental breaches is in line with section 174 of the National Environment Act No. 5 of 2019.

“The express penalty scheme is intended to deter non-compliance with environmental laws and to prevent environmental degradation through payment of monetary penalties,” Akankwasa said.

He added that environmental degraders (companies and individuals) could pay a fine of up to UGX 6 billion or serve a jail sentence.

“We get you breaching an environmental requirement, you get an invoice, and pay to government to clean up the mess that you have made,” he added.

The penalty notice will specify the rate and nature of the alleged contravention and provide a summary of the facts that NEMA or an authorized officer alleges and the amount payable.

The NEMA ED added that the fines payable for specific environmental breaches are a computation of the currency points as prescribed by law.

“Under the criminal justice system, every offense has a maximum number of currency points that one is liable to pay and each currency point is Shs20000. Under the law, you have a choice, you can opt for prosecution or a fine. We are making it easy and, at the same time, protecting the environment,” he added.

Akankwasa stated that administrative measures were required because financial instruments are more deterrents than the traditional criminal justice system.

Some offenses include, driving a car without a dustbin attracts a maximum fine of UGX 6M, Import, export or use of plastics below 30 microns will attract a fine of up to UGX 100m, emitting noise beyond permissible levels attracts a maximum of UGX 10 million among others.

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