Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, says the scrap metal trade is not to be blamed for every theft of metal, either from a private or public space.
The Minister was responding to a concern raised in the House of Representatives on January 29 that the re-opening of the scrap metal trade poses a risk to public infrastructure and personal property.
“There is evidence that there is a local industry that has utilised a significant portion of the scrap. It is (also) reported that ammunition is being made illegally from such metals,” Mr. Hylton told the House.
He added that it is an “easy tag” to say that every theft has a relationship to the trade in scrap metal.
“I think it is yet to be proven that it is, and I will say further that this is why we have placed the burden of the trade on the exporters and not at the dealer level. It is the exporters that need to ascertain what it is they are buying and from whom they are buying and to establish the ownership chain, so that if they are confronted they are able to demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is the source of the metal,” the Minister said.
In the meantime, the Minister said he is satisfied that the new scrap metal regime is being operated within the best possible regulatory framework.
“Contrary to the view in certain public space that the re-opening of the trade is a manifestation of the ‘policy of poverty’, the trade in scrap metal benefits a wide cross section of Jamaicans, operating at various levels along the value chain,” he noted.
Mr. Hylton added that with the price of energy ever increasing and the levels of certain non-renewable resources decreasing, it is his expectation that the demand for scrap metal will continue to increase.
“This however, must not be pursued at the risk to public infrastructure and personal property. In the past we lost millions of dollars to theft and vandalism, in addition to the cost of dislocation to businesses and additional security measures, which companies were forced to implement,” the Minister said.
He emphasised that underpinning the re-opening of the trade has been the need to tighten and enforce the regulations and ensure that “we bring to book any and everyone who does not play by the rules”.
“All of us have to play by the rules if we are to have a sustainable and proper functioning scrap metal industry,” the Minister said.
After more than a year of closure, the scrap metal trade was re-opened on Monday, January 28.