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Parliament approves environmental liability law

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Thursday, March 4
Parliament approved in the third reading a package of legislative initiatives on "environmental responsibility", which imposes new obligations on enterprises operating in Georgia. Amendments have been made to a total of 7 Georgian laws, including the Law on Atmospheric Air Protection, according to which large enterprises in Georgia will have to install air monitoring systems.

The implementation of the new regulations is mandatory from June 1, and the obligation to control air pollution applies to a total of 85 enterprises.

The new installations will monitor how much air is polluted by a particular company and whether the degree of pollution exceeds the established norms.

Even though there are only a few months left before the regulation goes into effect, an accurate list of so-called pollutants has just been provided to businesses. According to the private sector, this is one of the reasons why the equipment has not been purchased so far.

Levan Vepkhvadze, executive director of the Georgian Business Association, says that 3 months left before the new regulation enters into force, is not enough time to purchase and install the equipment. According to him, its a logistical issue since the installation of the equipment could cost the company GEL 1 million as it has many emission points.

The company has to announce an international tender, other companies have to be given a deadline to participate in this tender, then a selection has to be made, then the contract is negotiated individually, which lasts for 2-3 weeks. After all this, money is transferred, and installed, he said, adding that terms are unrealistic.

The private sector demanded the postponement of commitments, but the Parliament approved the legislative package in the third reading. The deadlines for the enactment of the regulations have been partially extended to a total of 6 months, to ensure that the by-laws are drafted before their enactment.

"We had several meetings with business and agreed that the new regulations, which provide for air monitoring, will enter into force this year. We also introduced the draft by-law to the business, as well as sent a letter to each company and the Ministry has a group of employees who advise the business, Nino Tandilashvili, the Deputy Minister of Environment, told bm.ge.

According to the Ministry of Environment, consultation meetings have been held with businesses before law amendments. The ministry also underlined that it would not be able to inspect all companies right after the rule enters into force, but the Supervision Service will plan the process and follow it.

Businesses will have to incur financial costs to meet new requirements. According to the explanatory card, the installation of a self-monitoring system for each harmful substance, (there are 6 of them in total), costs an average of Euro10-15 thousand, although the private sector says that one device is needed for each disposal point, which rounds up to immense costs.