20 Feb Government proposes law to allow action against firms causing haze
SINGAPORE — In a move aimed at sending “a strong signal of deterrence” to errant companies, the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources plans to introduce a law that will allow legal action to be taken against companies, both local and foreign, that cause transboundary haze.
Under the draft Transboundary Haze Pollution Bill, errant companies can be fined up to S$300,000 if their activities outside Singapore result in the island being blanketed by unhealthy levels of haze. The draft Bill is up for public consultation until March 19.
Singapore Institute of International Affairs Chairman Simon Tay said the proposed law will allow individual lawsuits against companies, hence bypassing any “friction” that might occur if the matter has to go through governments. With companies having to prove that they are not liable for the haze, they “will feel more pressure to be transparent and responsible”, he added.
A chain reaction might also follow, such as banks becoming more careful when approving loans to companies since the financial institutions would not want to expose themselves to more risks of civil or criminal liability, Mr Tay said.
The proposed law “isn’t a silver bullet, but … it could play a role in creating the overall ecology, for the right kind of approach to this”, Mr Tay added.
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