Scrap metal trade to re-open with strict regulations in place
The government has approved the re-opening of the scrap metal trade after a six-month ban on April 08, 2021.
The announcement was made during a meeting with scrap metal dealers, the Head of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), James Singh; Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond and officers from the Guyana Revenue Authority, held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.
Scrap metal dealers have been pleading with the government for months now to reopen the trade. A ban was implemented in September last year by the government as they embarked on an assessment of the trade.
Minister Walrond explained that while the assessment is still ongoing, a decision was made to reopen the trade. Two units have been established – one internally within the Ministry –and the other, externally. The external unit will comprise officials from the Guyana Police Force, CANU, Guyana Revenue Authority and the Ministry.
“I must let you know that we took this long to try to get it right, to try to fill as many gaps that we saw existed in the previous operations of the trade and we believe it is a work in progress,” the minister said.
Additionally, a document with recommendations and regulations for the trade has also been established. This document, which was approved by the cabinet, also outlines non-negotiable measures for the traders.
Among the new measures is the authorised packing of scrap metal in a specific yard with 24-hour surveillance. This will also be boosted with the presence of CANU officers, who with the aid of body cams, will empty and inspect scrap metal containers before being exported.
Containers will also be scanned in the presence of officers from the external unit and will also be escorted to the designated wharf by the unit. Meanwhile, if the scanned and sealed container does not depart within seven days, the scanning process is repeated.
In order to clamp down on the illegal shipment of narcotics from Guyana, CANU will also have to be notified before a container is loaded with scrap metal.
The document also states that shippers will be required to sign a contract to adhere to all the measures and protocols and if found in breach, they will be faced with strict penalties such as being banned and license revoked.
The head of CANU, James Singh, said they are also willing to work with the traders pertaining to implementing best practices to the trade. Meanwhile, Minister Walrond also announced that only licensed traders will be allowed to export with the reopening of the trade.
The minister also revealed that there will be no issuing of new licenses; this she said is to tighten the processes on the trade. “New applicants have to be vetted properly and we are not in a position to do that just yet,” the minister said.
Traders present at the meeting also spoke about the challenges they face and called for an extension to their export licenses.
Director of Israel General Traders, Moses Evelyn, who is also a scrap metal dealer and exporter, told the News Room that it was very challenging during the ban and he had to lay off his workers.
“The expenses and so on remained the same and we had no form of income coming in, so you try to get by,” Evelyn said.
Evelyn said he is happy and excited about the reopening of the trade.
“This is what we were wanting for a very long time now and we are very grateful for having the minister coming to this conclusion of having the trade reopened.”