Scrap metal dealers will be given three months to export their material which would
have accumulated over the past 19 months that the trade had been suspended.
This was announced by Minister of State Joseph Harmon during the post cabinet press briefing yesterday at the Ministry of the Presidency. He said that Cabinet granted its limited approval for a limited restart of the trade across Guyana.
Harmon said that in September 2016 Cabinet accepted the proposal of the Minister of Business to restart the trade on the basis of a new menu of measures being put in place.
“The process of putting together new guidelines and regulations by the Ministry has been on-going and the Ministry now feels that it is in a position to authorize a limited restart to the scrap metal trade.”
The Minister added that inspections have revealed that there is a build-up of scrap metals across Region Four in particular as a result of the trade being closed for so long.
“Cabinet has therefore approved the Minister of Business’ proposal to allow exporters to ship out the existing scrap for a limited period of three months.”
Meanwhile, during the Alliance for Change’s press conference yesterday, Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, was asked to comment on the position of the trade. He said that there is a new framework being prepared for the eventual
resumption of the trade.
“That framework has not yet been concluded, it includes new legislation and regulations and the setting up of a new unit with rules and procedures. That has not been done as yet; it is still a work in progress and that is all I can say at this point.”
When Kaieteur News asked if a timeline can be given for when traders can expect the suspension to be lifted, Gaskin said that his Ministry has already gone past the date on which these new changes were to be made and as such abstained from announcing a new date.
In November last year, Gaskin had said that one of the important factors to be addressed before the trade is officially restarted, is the establishment of a unit to regulate the trade. He had said that the unit would need to be budgeted for and put in place.
“That requires cabinet approval as well as a supplementary financial appropriation. So there are a number of things that have to happen.”
The Business Minister had said that ultimately the government cannot allow an unregulated trade to carry on business, more so, with the kind of past the scrap metal industry has.
According to Gaskin the trade was proven in the past to be detrimental to a lot of businesses operating and private individuals. According to Gaskin people were stealing man hold covers and grill work and exported as scrap metal thereby increasing the need for the trade to be regulated.
The trade was closed on June 15, 2015 to facilitate a forensic audit which was completed that December. The audit which was done by Chartered Accountants Ram and McRae had recommended that the legislation governing the local industry is in need of an update.
It was highlighted that in the old Metal Dealers Act 91:08 there was no provision for the collection of export fees. Despite this, the auditors found within financial statements records of the unit’s income described as Export fees.
In response to the temporary ban on the trade, the Guyana Metal Recyclers Association had asked the government to curb an alleged illegal trade of the metals. The organisation had said that before the closure, the industry was second to none but since closing, had developed into a lawless exercise.
It claimed that material was being collected and smuggled abroad through a number of ports and to neighbouring Suriname.
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