Members dissatisfied with new rules for trade
SCRAP-METAL dealers, who have been in limbo for the last several months, were left fuming on Monday as the Government unveiled tough new regulations for the trade, but left the partial ban in place.
Jonathan Aarons, who heads the Scrap Metal Federation of Jamaica, said his members are facing serious hardships and were expecting to hear that the partial ban imposed by the previous government was going to be lifted.
"We are quite upset with regard to the minister's (Anthony Hylton, industry, investment and commerce) approach in not being deliberate and direct in his pronouncement as it relates to the scrap-metal industry," Aarons said.
However, he said the federation is studying the new measures and will comment further.
Aarons' comments came after Hylton announced tough new regulations that will govern the scrap-metal trade, but made it clear that a full reopening of the sector was still "months" away.
With the new measures, the minister said the Government was putting in place a system that is more rigorous and "far different from what existed before".
"I know the non-industrial scrap-metal exporters do not like it. But it is either this or closure of the export of non-industrial scrap," he insisted.
"This ministry is committed to reinstating the trade in scrap metal in the shortest possible time. We have taken every possible caution, dotted every 'I' and crossed every 'T', checked, cross-checked and rechecked to ensure we have plugged every loophole," Hylton added.
Under the new regulations, which have been approved by Cabinet, the export of scrap metal will be done in two categories - industrial and non-industrial scrap.
The regulations place more emphasis on non-industrial scrap or metals purchased for export, an industry that has been blamed for the widespread theft of metallic infrastructure, leaving losses estimated at $1 billion in the last four years.
A key component of the new measure will see the creation of a central processing and loading site for exporters of non-industrial scrap metals.
Hylton said lands have already been identified at Riverton City, in St Andrew, and the Factories Corporation of Jamaica will be responsible for constructing the facility at a cost of $40 million.
Exporters will be required to take their scrap metal to the site where Hylton promises that they will be "rigorously inspected" by the Jamaica Customs Department and the police.
"In the event that the material is proven to be stolen, the exporter will be fined $5 million and he will lose his licence to export. The company will also be required to post a bond of $5 million," Hylton explained.