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Scrap metal ban to be lifted

Announcement likely this week

Sunday, July 29, 2012    

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A major announcement on the lifting of the ban on the export of scrap metal could come as early as tomorrow.

Industry and Commerce Minister, Anthony Hylton will host a press conference tomorrow morning where he will share details about the ministry's position on the sector. However, sources close to the governing People's National Party (PNP) have told the Jamaica Observer that he is likely to say that a lifting of the ban has finally been approved by the Portia Simpson Miller administration.

The development comes one year after the Golding administration virtually closed down the industry in response to public outcry over the widespread theft of metal infrastructure from homes, businesses and Government institutions, including manhole covers, gates and grates.

Scrap metal dealers expressed outrage at the decision, and in many subsequent meetings advised then minister of industry and commerce Dr Christopher Tufton that the move was draconian, as other solutions could have been found.

The dealers, many of whom are members of the Scrap Metal Federation of Jamaica received support from the PNP, which also argued that other measures could have been introduced to stem the theft.

The PNP which at the time was preparing for an election campaign, promised that it would lift the ban on the trade if returned to power as Government.

But several powerful organisations, including the Jamaica Manufacturer's Association and the Jamaica Exporter's Association were among those who thanked the Government for imposing the ban on the industry.

Despite winning the general election and being in office for just over six months, the Simpson Miller administration has not been able to appease stakeholders in the scrap-metal trade who have been demanding a resumption of exports, in keeping with the party's election promise.

However, the Government has been forced to exercise caution as it has to strike a balance between the demands of the scrap metal dealers and those of persons opposed to the resumption of the trade.

Addressing the matter in his sectoral debate presentation last month, Hylton acknowledged that consultations had taken place with key industry stakeholders, and that progress was being made in the search for a mutually beneficial solution. At the time, he explained that a temporary central processing site for scrap metal was being identified.

"I believe that this move to a central site is critical to ensuring that it is properly managed and it's a warning to those in the sector (that) should we fail in this, what I believe to be a last ditch effort (at regulation), there are more drastic measures that the Government can resort to," said Hylton in his sectoral presentation.

Attempts to contact the minister by telephone up to press time were futile.

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