The Scrap Metal Trade could be up and running soon, with new regulations to govern its operations, according to Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday July 30 at the Ministry, in Kingston, Mr. Hylton said the Ministry is committed to re-instating the trade in the shortest possible time.
“We have taken every possible caution, dotted every ‘I’ and crossed every ’T’, checked, cross checked and re-checked, to ensure that we plug every loophole, create the barriers and impediments to unscrupulous individuals and companies, to get the industry up and running. This Ministry, this Government, is pulling out all the stops to turn this economy around,” the Minister said.
Among the new measures that Minister Hylton announced is the establishment of central scrap metal processing and loading sites, on a phased basis, to accommodate approved scrap metal exporters.
The Factories Corporation of Jamaica (FCJ) is responsible to construct and operate a site at the Riverton City landfill/ dump. It is to recover its capital outlay, estimated to cost $40 million, from users of the facility.
The Minister explained that the centralising of the operations will come with advantages, such as improvement in the level and frequency of inspections and tighter and more effective management in the processing and loading of scrap. This will result in a reduction in the quantity of stolen material, he said.
Mr. Hylton noted too, that competition among exporters will ensure that dealers and suppliers of scrap metal get a fair price, and private exporters will aggressively seek the best prices internationally, thereby ensuring that the country maximises its earnings from the trade.
He explained that for purposes of regulation, the government places scrap metal into two categories – industrial and non-industrial.
The Minister pointed out that under industrial scrap, companies will be permitted to export their own scrap metal, which will have to be exported in their (the company’s) name. Customs will have to inspect the loading, and a regulatory fee will be charged.
"Any proof of theft of scrap metal that is exported by the company, will result in stiff penalties and cancellation of the licence to export. The penalty will be $5 million and the company will have to post a bond of $5 million," Mr. Hylton said.
He explained that non-industrial scrap will have to be exported from the central scrap metal processing and loading site. Exporters in this category will also face a fine of $5 million if they breach the regulations.
"My message to anyone who wishes to continue in the business of exporting scrap metal is: Stay far away from anything that could be questionable,” the Minister warned.
He said that the objectives behind re-opening the trade are to create employment; earn foreign exchange; and clear derelict scrap from valuable space in order to clean the environment of unsightly scraps.
"These three objectives must be achieved, subject to the prevention of theft and destruction of functional metallic items and infrastructure,” the Minister emphasised.
Mr. Hylton told journalists that “there is money, serious foreign exchange to be made from the trade in scrap metal."
The Minister reported that the scrap metal trade, at one time, provided employment for an estimated 10,000 persons among the lower socio economic group and earned foreign exchange at a peak of US$100 million in 2006. The trade also caused estimated losses from theft over the past four years totalling approximately J$1 billion.