Firms given two years to come clean

The government has warned companies operating without environmental standards to start complying with environmental regulations, giving them a two-year grace period before it starts revoking business permits.

Companies without environmental impact assessment (EIA) have until October 2011 to submit an environmental audit.

“Two years is more than enough time for companies to prepare an environmental audit,” Ilyas Asaad, an environmental compliance official at the Environment Ministry said Thursday.

The audit will assess businesses’ levels of compliance with government policies to protect the environment.

“If they fail to meet the deadline, the companies will be deemed as operating illegally. We will impose sanctions as stipulated in the 2009 Environmental Law,” he said.

Ilyas said there were thousands companies believed to be operating without EIAs.

The need for an environmental audit is stipulated in the 2009 Environmental Law, which says that if businesses fail to fulfill their obligations on environmental audits, the Environment Ministry can assign an independent auditor to assess the company.