Stabroek Business has learnt that government has notified the Guyana Scrap Metal Dealers Association (GSMDA) of a decision to re-open the trade in ferrous metals immediately.
The decision which comes almost six months after the closure of the industry in May was communicated to an official of the GSMDA by the Office of the Prime Minister last Wednesday. However, there is still no word on the resumption of the trade in ferrous metals which has been the main subject of the controversy that brought the industry to a standstill.
The GSMDA official with whom Stabroek Business spoke said that the decision by government clears the way for the preparation of more than 9,000 tons of ferrous metals that have been accumulated at scrap yards across the country for several months awaiting a decision by government.
According to the official the scrap will now be placed in containers and made ready for shipping at the earliest possible time. Several containers of ferrous scrap which have been lying on wharves in Georgetown have been also been cleared for shipping.
However, the decision by government to provide a partial resolution of the scrap metal controversy which has been ongoing for more than a year, still leaves the dealers with other difficulties associated with the shipping of the metals.
Shipping companies are refusing to handle the containers until more than $US100,000,00 in storage and demurrage fees which accumulated during the period that the scrap was lying at the wharves have been paid.
The GDMSA official told Stabroek Business that dealers are hoping that government will agree to liquidate the debt by offering the shipping lines tax concessions to the value of the outstanding amount. According to the official that issue was to have been the subject of discussion between dealers and the Office of the Prime Minister during this week.
Meanwhile Stabroek Business has learnt that the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company has declined an invitation from the GSMDA to meet to discuss mechanisms for bringing an end to the problem of the theft of copper from the company’s installations.
Last year’s intervention in the industry by the Office of the Prime Minister was sparked by complaints from GT&T, the Guyana Power and Light Company, and the Guyana Water Authority regarding the vandalizing of its installations by scrap metal thieves. GT&T particularly has reported losses amounting to millions of dollars, which resulted from the vandalizing of copper cable and the costs associated with replacement.
Copper is one of the most sought after non-ferrous metals in the scrap trade and some dealers in the industry have been fingered as accomplices in the theft and sale of cable.
The GDMSA official told Stabroek Business that the Association was seeking to conclude formal agreements with the utility companies designed to bring an end to the theft of metals.
However, Stabroek Business understands that GT&T is insisting that government be part of any such agreement.
Meanwhile, the internal row that is ensuing within the industry took a new turn earlier this week when at least ten scrap dealers issued a document expressing confidence in sacked GSMDA Technical Director Malik Cave who was responsible for scrap negotiations with government earlier this year.
Stabroek Business understands that the signatories to the memorandum have opted to continue to have Cave serve as an adviser to them.