Director of the Guyana Metal Recyclers Association Desmond Sears on Wednesday distanced the membership of the organisation at the alleged recent discovery of 3,000 ft of service wire belonging to the Guyana Power and Light Company (GPL) from the premises of what was described in another section of the media as a ‘dealership’ located at Princes and Bishop streets. Reports of the recent GPL incident have alluded to non-ferrous metals though Sears insisted that since that section of the trade was officially closed there was no question of having those metals legally shipped out of Guyana. He said while that circumstance reduced the likelihood that the metals found recently would have involved members of the association there was a general awareness that there were other ways of moving illegally acquired metals out of the country.
Sears told Stabroek Business that the association had good reason to be concerned that occurrences like the recent theft from GPL would heap fresh stigma on members of the association in circumstances where much work had been done in an effort to sanitize the image of the industry.
“Of course we are concerned when instances like this arise. There is a tendency to link the term scrap metal dealers to members of our association and that is bad news for us,” Sears said.
Sears said that since the partial re-opening of the metal trade in October 2011 and the re-christening of what was once the Guyana Scrap Metal Dealers Association, the 21-member organisation had improved its relationship with other stakeholders in the metals industry including the government and had been successful in creating “a more ordered system” that enabled businesses to trade in metals.
Sears said the association had embarked on an image-building initiative designed to distance its members from the stigma associated with the ‘bad old days’ when metal dealers were commonly linked to metal theft. Members had been able to establish a significantly enhanced relationship with government, he added and state responsibility for the metal industry had been reassigned to the Ministry of Housing’s Central Housing and Planning Authority. The procedure for the export of metals now includes a system of inspections, which both the association and the various other stakeholders widely believe would disprove scrap metal theft.
According to Sears the current downturn in the global economy had significantly reduced demand for metals in the traditional Asian market. He said that during the first quarter of this year members of the association had shipped 324 containers totaling 6,000 metric tonnes of metal, while in the second quarter 258 containers had been shipped containing 5,100 metric tonnes.
He said the downturn trend in exports was expected to continue and an estimated 5,000 tonnes was likely to be the final export figure for the third quarter of 2013.
Sears told Stabroek Business that while issues like export markets were important to the association there were other priorities including strengthening the relationship with stakeholders, broadening the association’s membership base to include more metal dealers from outside Region Four and establishing an effective self-policing regime. Sears said while he believed close collaboration between the association and the police was important he was yet to receive responses to correspondence sent to the force.
He said that while the trade in non-ferrous metals remains officially closed dealers who had legitimately acquired quantities of the metals over a period of time could make a formal application to government for a special concession to export the metals.