KAMPALA (Scrap Monster): Guyana plans to restart scrap metal trade by end-November this year. The country’s President David Granger, after his recent meeting with Michael Benjamin, Secretary, Guyana Scrap Metal Recyclers Association (GSMRA) had hinted on efforts to restore the trade even before the earlier deadline of November 30 set by the government. However sources indicate that there is very less chance for an early restoration of scrap metal trade in the country.
It must be noted that the government had banned scrap metal exports during June last year. Also, the responsibility for administration of scrap metal trade was removed from the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) and handed over to the Ministry of Business. This followed allegations against the Scrap Metal Unit, the body that was responsible for monitoring of scrap metal trade. Also, the country had witnessed sharp rise in metal theft incident rate, on account of compelling prices for scrap metal in international market. In addition, scrap metal exporters had demanded reduction in high duties levied on scrap metal shipments out of the country. The government had implemented the ban so as to bring in effective procedures and rules to monitor the trade.
The GSMRA had opposed the ban at the outset, calling it illegal. According to the association, the closure of scrap trade has not benefitted the country in any way. Rather, it has caused severe hardship and suffering to thousands of our citizens who depend on the trade for a living. It has also led to illegal collection and smuggling of scrap metal. Further, theft of metals from public service entities such as the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company and the Guyana Power and Light Company continued as before. Under these circumstances, the Association had called for reopening of the trade, after preliminary audits, without waiting for formulation of state laws and other control mechanisms.
The members belonging to GSMRA had recently picketed the Ministry of Business, appealing President Granger to intervene in the matter. They expressed the hope that scrap metal trade would resume at the earliest.
Meantime, industry sources noted that the government has not yet made any significant progress in implementing new legislative regulatory framework. The first proposal sent to the Cabinet in April this year was deferred, calling for wider consultations among various stakeholders. Although several rounds of consultations were held after that in April and July, no fruitful outcome has come out yet. According to Minister Dominic Gaskin, a new proposal is ready and would be presented before the Cabinet with next two weeks.
Upon lifting the ban, it is feared that the exporters will be made to pay 100% duty on exports. However, the Business Ministry may allow exporters to ship their goods for free, until the procedures are put in place. The final roadmap is expected to be released only after the proposed meeting to be attended by the Business Ministry officials, Ministry of Communities and GSMRA representatives.