One day before a Cabinet sub-committee is expected to deliberate on the proposed six-month ban on scrap metal and copper export, Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal warned that the proposed six-month ban is the wrong move and could push people further into criminality.
The proposed ban is to allow for the requisite legislation and processes to be put in place to allow for the industry to be regulated, only allowing licensed dealers to export. However, speaking at a UNC press conference yesterday, Dr Moonilal expressed his doubt that this will materialise in the fashion government conceptualised.
“You say you are closing down for six months but we all know there will be no regulations, no change of law, no new regime in six months if they close down. They will close down for years,” he said.
“This is a recipe for the criminalisation of Trinidad and Tobago. This will lead to further criminal activity. This will lead to loss of income. Those businessmen in this sector have invested millions and millions of dollars, they now stand to lose that. It is a lot of small and micro-businessmen involved here as well.”
He concedes the acts of vandalism are an important issue but contends there are better ways of controlling the scourge, instead of a blanket ban on the industry.
“Could I make an amusing comparison? We have discovered that people are stealing AD Wagon, they say that’s the number one car being stolen. Let’s ban the importation of AD Wagons because people thieving it. You cannot think like that. You cannot ban everything people thieving. You cannot do that, you have to police the society, patrol the society,” he said.
He also suggested taking examples from Jamaica’s Scrap Metal Regulations of 2013.
“Man Jamaica could do it, we can do it. Seven wasted years and you couldn’t do that?” he said.
On Friday, Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales revealed that, within recent months, scrap metal and copper thieves targeting state installations have cost taxpayers over $22 million in damages. It’s why the T&T Police Service (TTPS) is now offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of people behind such acts. Making the announcement during a media briefing at the Ministry of National Security in Port-of-Spain on Friday, acting Police Commissioner Mc Donald Jacob said the increasing incidents, which disrupted telecommunications, water and electricity services, are now threatening national security.
Today, a cabinet sub-committee is expected to deliberate on the proposed six-month ban on scrap metal and copper export. The committee is headed by Attorney General Reginald Armour and includes Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon, Minister of Energy Stuart Young and Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds. If successful, it will mean dealers will need to be licensed to export the metals.