Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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$500,000 fine for scrap metal breaches
In the space of just 12 months, between 2009 and 2010, T&T’s scrap metal exports escalated from $69 million to $96 million—an increase of 39 per cent. However, this rapid growth was accompanied by an alarming increase in thefts of metals that support the country’s infrastructure, including telecommunication cables, water pumps, manhole covers and bridge railing. This was one of the factors that prompted the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment to develop a policy to regulate the local scrap metal industry.
The ministry noted that the industry “had evolved well beyond the framework of the Old Metal and Marine Stores Act of 1904 that governs the trade” in T&T. According to the policy just made public by the ministry, there was also concern about the lack of proper regulations to manage the industry, lack of adherence to environmental standards and damage to the country’s infrastructure.
The policy strengthens the existing regulatory framework for the industry, taking into account international best practices as well as unique national circumstances and provides contemporary guidelines and regulations. The aim is to develop an effective licencing regime for scrap metal dealers and raise operational standards for the industry. Under the new arrangement, licences to deal in scrap metal will be issued through the ministry’s Trade Licence Unit (TLU) rather than in the Magistrates Court as had been the previous arrangement.
There will also be stricter criteria for the licencing of scrap metal dealers, exporters and collectors. Among other requirements, dealers must have valid VAT registration and Board of Inland Revenue numbers, must be registered under the Companies Act and must have a certificate of good character from the T&T Police Service. Only established companies will be eligible for a licence as industrial scrap metal exporters and they will be subjected to robust customs and police inspections.
The policy further stipulates: “Scrap metal sorting and packing sites be properly secured and be located away from the general public to prevent air, visual, thermal, water and noise pollution.” There are strict regulations for loading sites for scrap metals, including a requirement for 24-hour CCTV video surveillance. Breaches of the policy will result in fines ranging from $500,000 to $30,000.