By Paul Ploumis
SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): Guyana has given final nod to the proposal to restart scrap metal trade for a limited period. The proposal by the Ministry of Business was approved by the Cabinet. The announcement to this effect was made by Cabinet Secretary and State Minister Joseph Harmon.
According to Harmon, the Ministry has long been formulating new guidelines to scrap metal exports out of the country. It is in the process of implementing new set of process and regulations, he noted. The Ministry is believed to have made significant progress in implementing new legislative regulatory framework. The first proposal sent to the Cabinet in April 2016 was deferred, calling for wider consultations among various stakeholders. Following this, a new proposal was drafted and presented before the Cabinet.
The Ministry has agreed to allow scrap metal trade for a limited period, Harmon added. It has come to the notice of the Ministry that there exists a huge inventory of scrap metal across the country, on account of the ban imposed on exports almost a year-and-a half back. In accordance with the Cabinet decision, scrap metal exporters in the country will be allowed to ship out the materials for a restricted period of three months.
The country’s scrap metal association, Guyana Scrap Metal Recyclers Association (GSMRA) is yet to respond to the cabinet decision. GSMRA had opposed the ban from the very beginning, calling it illegal. The Association had earlier demanded reopening of scrap trade, subject to preliminary audits. According to them, metal theft rate from utility service providers has not witnessed any decline due to the ban. In addition, the ban has adversely impacted the lives of thousands of citizens who depend on scrap metal trade for their living. Furthermore, the outright ban on exports has resulted in huge rise in incidents such as illegal scrap collection and smuggling.
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. The government had implemented the ban so as to bring in effective procedures and rules to monitor the trade.
The Ministry of Business had earlier provided a November 30th, 2016 deadline towards resumption of scrap metal trade, but had failed to stick to its commitment. GSMRA had staged a protest outside President’s residence. Following this, the President himself had addressed the gathering, assuring of immediate action to resolve the stalemate. A face-to-face exchange between President David Granger and GMRA Secretary Michael Benjamin during a demonstration also paved way for fast-tracking the reopening of metal export trade.