In light of a large build-up of scrap metal across Region Four, Cabinet has approved a temporary restart of the scrap metal trade so that exporters can ship out the existing stock over the next three months.
Speaking at yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing, Minister of State Joseph Harmon noted that inspections have revealed that the 19-month suspension of the trade led to a buildup of stock and consequently Cabinet approved a proposal brought to it by Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin in September, 2016.
He noted that the process of the ministry putting together new guidelines and regulations for the industry has been ongoing and it now feels that it is in a position to authorise a limited restart to the trade.
In August last year, the members of the Guyana Metal Recyclers’ Association Inc (GMRA) staged a protest over the continued suspension of scrap metal exports. Armed with placards, the dealers assembled on South Road in front of the Ministry of Business, where they emphasised that their livelihoods were threatened since they had not been able to engage in any business for more than a year. They said an estimated 1,500 workers were affected.
The APNU+AFC administration in 2015 removed responsibility for the administration of the scrap metal trade from the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) to the Ministry of Business. An audit by accounting firm Ram and McRae had found that the Scrap Metal Unit located within the CH&PA was guilty of a slew of irregularities, including some related to the mishandling of packing procedures and the questionable expenditure of millions of dollars. It also said that under the watch of the unit there had been instances in which the Guyana Revenue Authority had neglected to collect export duty on scrap metal leaving the country. Additionally the trade was suspended because of the constant vandalism of GTT cables, which was linked back to the scrap metal dealers.