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Scrap metal, useful, but ...

Published:Tuesday | May 4, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Dr Alfred Sangster

The Editor, Sir:

The scrap-metal industry has come into focus recently in a number of ways. Agriculture Minister Christopher Tufton has called for a ban on the industry as he claims it is having serious effects on agriculture, particularly the sugar industry.

The recent $5 million theft of specialised equipment is a particular case in point that has left the minister fuming. His call for a ban has had the response of fellow Minister Samuda agreeing, at least for now.

The scrap metal dealers are protesting the ban on the industry for the sake of the workers in the business and foreign exchange earnings. They have at the same time, posted a reward for anyone with information on the recent theft. As if to say the thieves are not known. This must be the million-dollar mystery. How could an assembly worth $5 million be stolen and no one knows the perpetrators. Don't make me laugh. But of course, it is not a laughing matter. It is clear that the stink of corruption and crime has entered in a big way.

The scrap metal industry has a useful role to play.

It provides employment and earns foreign exchange

It is an environmentally important industry in its contribution to the concepts of recycling and reuse, and helps in clearing up the mess on the countryside.

But a careful and structured review of the issue needs to be done.

Here are my proposals for the proper management and supervision of the industry.

1. All scrap metal dealers should be properly registered if this is not already done.

2. The ban should continue until a proper monitoring and control system is put in place.

3. The control and the establishment of a proper system should be put in the hands of the Commissioner of Customs, Danville Walker. His reputation for integrity and toughness is well known and I cannot think of a better person to control this obviously difficult industry. The export side of the business would obviously also come under his purview. The Government should also share in the earnings from the industry.

4. An important facet of the management and control process would be the source of the scrap metal which the dealers would have to provide.

5. When the recent $ $5 million equipment thieves are apprehended, and a proper system is put in place, then the ban could be lifted.

I am, etc.,