By creating loopholes in environmental legislation, is President Mikheil Saakashvili’s administration making a deal with the devil?
Under amendments adopted in March to Georgia’s environmental protection law, companies with a past record of environmental transgressions – covering everything from contaminating the Black Sea to air pollution – can receive amnesty in exchange for scheduled payments to Georgia’s state budget. The Ministry of Energy, which oversees environmental policy, will decide on requests for amnesty on a case-by-case basis. Payment schedules will vary.
At least one mining interest has already taken the Georgian government up on the offer.
In May, Madneuli JSC, the country’s largest mining company, and Quartzite Ltd – both at that time owned by GeoProMining – agreed to a 13-million-lari ($8 million) payment for violations of environmental regulations since April 1994. The deal kicked off this month with a transfer of 382,576 laris ($234,700), and will end with a final payment of 840,909 laris ($519,000) in 2014, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by EurasiaNet.org.
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Molly Corso is a freelance journalist who also works as editor of Investor.ge, a monthly publication by the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia.