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13 months into scrap metal ban
The Guyana Metal Recyclers Association (GMRA), the official body for exporters of scrap metal, has reached out to lambast the Government for what it says is the illegal suspension of the trade for more than one year, rendering legitimate businessmen incapable of making a living.
Agitated over the suspension of the trade, Secretary of the GMRA Michael Benjamin complained that not only was the license to ply their trade suspended without notice; the suspension for more than one year in itself is illegal.
“For 13 months we are without any answers. We are pleading with the Administration to speed up the process because by law, the Government is not allowed to suspend the industry for more than one year… we have lost in the billions,” he bemoaned.
Benjamin stated that the suspension has rendered exporters incapable of making a living for their families. He stated that many exporters have bank loans to pay and are unable to honour their contractual oblegations because the business has stalled.
Questioning whether this is the good life the coalition Government promised them, Benjamin exposed that scores of workers have been laid off.
Referencing this enormous loss, Benjamin is pleading with the Administration to speed up the process of the draft legislation which is aimed at reconfiguring the sector.
“They told us that they are going to take the legislation to Cabinet next week and we are hoping that that is realistic because we were told that before. We don’t have time on our hands, our businesses are stalled. We cannot feed our family and pay our mortgage and our bills,” he said, asking the Government to tell them what to do.
Last year, Government removed the responsibility of the scrap metal trade from the Central Housing and Planning Authority to the Business Ministry. Since then, the Ministry has been in consultation with various stakeholders and the Association to revamp the sector.
The legislation is expected to go to Cabinet next Tuesday for approval. However, Benjamin fears that this is a fool’s promise.
Benjamin stated that the sector had to lay off a lot of their workers because there was no work for them. He stated that some 1500 workers depend on the industry for an income.
In 2015, Ram and McRae produced a forensic audit report, which revealed that the Scrap Metal Unit within the Central Housing and Planning Authority was accountable for a string of irregularities, including the mishandling of packing procedures for scrap and the expenditure of millions of dollars.
It also revealed that the laws governing the scrap metal trade need to be completely revamped. Benjamin said the revamp should be accelerated because the Government cannot shut the trade down for more than a year.
It has been 13 months since the scrap metal trade has been stalled.