As the Government puts measures in place for the resumption of the scrap metal trade, Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton, said that a submission has been made to Cabinet for the centralization of the operations in the sector.
Making his presentation in the 2012/13 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Wednesday (June 20), Mr. Hylton said the submission proposes the establishment of a temporary central site for the processing of scrap metal, “even as more permanent work is undertaken on a long-term facility”.
The scrap metal trade was suspended under the previous administration, due to concerns about the theft of prime infrastructure for sale, by unscrupulous persons.
Minister Hylton, at press conference in February, stated the Government’s intention to lift the ban, subject to the implementation of appropriate regulation. He said, at the time, that the Ministry was in dialogue with stakeholders in order to ensure “agreement about the way forward.”
In announcing the proposal for the centralisation of the operations of the industry, he said the move will make the process of inspection easier and ensure proper oversight of the sector.
“I believe that this move to a central site is critical to ensuring that it is properly managed and it’s a warning to those in the sector (that) should we fail in this, what I believe to be a last ditch effort (at regulation), there are more drastic measures that the Government can resort to,” he stated.
He explained that under the system, which previously operated, each exporter would be in charge of processing their inventory in their own facility. He said the process required inspection of the containers by Customs, however, this was not always possible as the loading could take up to two days to be completed.
Mr. Hylton noted further that given the numerous sites housing the operations of scrap metal traders, the level of inspection necessary would require “an army” of Customs Officers to execute this task. The worst case scenario, he contended, was the risk of unscrupulous persons loading stolen or banned materials into the containers, in the absence of the officers.
“I have now come to the conclusion that, if we are going to have a sustainable scrap metal trade, the operations need to be centralised. Loading from a multiplicity of sites cannot and will not work,” he asserted.
Mr. Hylton said a “timely” Cabinet decision on the proposal is anticipated, while stressing that a way must be found to properly regulate what has effectively become a “global trade”.
Mr. Hylton also expressed the hope that in the wake of the “long hiatus” in the trade, “that those in the sector will understand that they carry a heavy burden to protect the sector and to ensure that the gates (for trade) remain open”.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter