FNC questions environment minister on status of 2009 plastic bag ban

FNC member Hamad Al Rahoomi asked the UAE Minister for Climate Change and Environment why the goal of banning plastic bags had not been fulfilled.

ABU DHABI // Efforts to cut the use of plastic bags have fallen short, and six years have passed since a proposal to ban them, the Federal National Council heard on Tuesday.

Hamad Al Rahoomi, an elected member for Dubai, asked Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, about a 2009 initiative to make the UAE free of plastic bags by 2013, and why the target had not been reached.

“This initiative has not achieved its goals, despite the fact that more than six years have passed since it was launched,” Mr Al Rahoomi said at Tuesday’s session.

Dr Al Zeyoudi said the UAE consumed 13 billion plastic bags a year, and his ministry continued to make efforts for them to be replaced with biodegradable bags.

Mr Al Rahoomi said that when the initiative was launched, many companies began looking for alternative materials.

When a ministry proposed an idea to the public, it was the FNC’s role “to make sure that it becomes a reality and was not just announced for media attention”, he said.

Dr Al Zeyoudi dismissed the claim and insisted the decision was made for the society.

Mr Al Rahoomi also sought clarification on a Government decision to allow employees to be late to work in heavy fog.

The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources should issue an official decision so managers do not penalise employees who may otherwise endanger themselves on the roads, he said.

Hussain Al Hammadi, Minister of Education and head of the authority, told him that such provisions exist under “flexible working hours”.

Employees can inform their managers of possible delays caused by weather conditions.

The decision has been announced, and employees and managers need to be aware of it, Mr Al Hammadi said.

Salem Al Shehhi, member for Ras Al Khaimah, questioned about employee evaluations for people with disabilities.

In one employee’s evaluation, Mr Al Shehhi said, it was mentioned that his performance should “exceed expectations”.

“He lost a part of his body already, so please explain what is meant by ‘exceed expectations’,” he said, adding that disabled employees should be evaluated on their capabilities.

Mr Al Hammadi said they already were, and each employee has an individual evaluation based on his or her situation, set by a direct supervisor.