The European Commission report states that this year, too, the Kosovo authorities have failed to adopt and implement measures to improve air quality, concluding that this failure poses a major threat to the health of the population. Although Kosovo is in dire need of environmental investment as it today faces uncontrolled pollution from obsolete power plants and toxic emissions from multiple sources, various governments for years have failed to implement sustainable interventions even though they have available had a specific budget which was derived from the ecological tax.
Since 2012, the citizens of Kosovo pay the ecological tax which for all these years has been collected in the name of environmental protection. The Republic of Kosovo in 2012 has adopted Law no. 04 / L-117 on Road and Ecological Tax of Vehicles and according to this law citizens are obliged to pay an annual tax on vehicle registration in an amount of 10 to 30 Euros depending on the ton of car.
According to the Kosovo Agency of Statistics, in 2020 alone, 355,829 motor vehicles were registered in Kosovo and consequently generated in the Kosovo budget through the ecological tax an amount of 4,261,350 Euros. If we look at the number of cars registered since 2012 when this law was approved, then it turns out that in Kosovo from 2012 to 2019 were registered 2,469,443 vehicles weighing under and over 3.5 tons, which is more than the budget that is dedicated to environmental protection, 28,025,670 Euros have been poured. And the known investments made from this amount for environmental protection to date are zero. Moreover, the Governments of Kosovo, having used such an amount have allowed Kosovo to be recognized in the world with Pristina which took the first place for air pollution in the whole globe.
The Law on Road and Ecological Vehicle Taxes has major shortcomings in itself. This law obliges owners of hybrid cars to pay the ecological tax – which is quite paradoxical. Instead of owners of vehicles that do not emit or emit low levels of pollutant gases being supported by state policies, they are instead forced to pay such a tax which is quite discouraging.
The Government of Kosovo must show institutional seriousness and take concrete steps to improve air quality in Kosovo. We are now in a period where the lives of citizens are becoming even more difficult. The COVID-19 pandemic is compounded by chemical gases that are causing major air pollution and deteriorating public health.
State institutions should start working to provide a sustainable solution to these long-standing pollution problems by increasing transparency in the management of the budget collected from environmental taxes, to review Law no. 04 / L-117 on road and ecological tax of vehicles, as well as to increase direct and emergency investments by cooperating with environmental experts in order to improve the current air quality and living of citizens.