Scrap-iron dealers hope for new licences by year-end

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Members of the Scrap Iron Dealers Association. File Photo

The Trinidad and Tobago Scrap Iron Dealers Association (TTSIDA) expects its members to be issued with two new types of licence to deal in scrap metals before year-end.

Association president Allan Ferguson told Newsday this on Thursday, minutes after a TTSIDA news briefing at its Kelly Village headquarters that was streamed online.

He reiterated a point made by chair of the proceedings Bernice Kishore that in place of the Government’s previous six-month ban on the industry, laid down four months ago, the Government had ordered a bill to be drafted to regulate the sector.

Ferguson said, “The Attorney General (Reginald Armour, SC) indicated to us that today he will carry it to Cabinet, and then when it’s approved in Cabinet it will go to the Parliament.”

Ferguson estimated that process would take two weeks.

“We are hoping we will get a little time before Christmas to open back the industry, so we could start our trade.”

He added, “The old licence we have will be able to go along to the rest of the year to use it, so we will be able to operate before the act comes into place.”

Asked the difference between the old and new licences, Ferguson replied, “There’s a lot, actually.

“The van collectors didn’t have licences, and a lot of people with vans were just able to come into the industry. This will now make it in a way that you have to have a licence to pick up the scrap.”

Secondly, he said the new licence would be needed for exporting containers full of scrap metal.

“People in this industry used to take containers and send it out all over the place, and that used to contribute to a lot of the theft and so on. Now you will have to have a licence to fill containers.

“It would bring a lot of change to us, because we would not be able to fill containers unless we have cameras monitoring what we put in the containers. If we don’t want to go that way (that is, cameras) we will have to have a supervisor from the Ministry of Trade and Industry making sure you pack the containers (properly.)”

He thanked the Government for its measures in line with what the association had been lobbying for.

Newsday asked about Kishore’s saying earlier the new bill’s definition of non-ferrous materials pointedly excluded copper, as well as gold, silver or platinoid metals.

“We would not be able to export copper.”

However, Ferguson said would-be exporters of copper would first have to obtain a separate licence, when the Government reopened the local copper market.

“That may take a year,” he said.

Pressed, he said the year-long ban on copper exports might seem a bit harsh.

“I don’t think the Government needs one year. It could do it in two-three months.”

Asked about his comments on TTSIDA clients in India and China suffering during the sector’s lockdown, he said TT was a regional hub for scrap metal exports, fed by neighbouring countries.

During the briefing, he said his association wanted to help people earn honest livelihoods such as by creating artworks from scrap metal instead of relying on handouts or turning to crime.

“We are willing to work with the Government to make sure this is an industry that could go far.”

Earlier, Kishore said the proposed Scrap Metal Bill 2022 would regulate the issuance of scrap-metal collectors’ licences and scrap-metal dealers’ licences.

She said a proposed licence would be valid for three years and must be prominently displayed in collectors’ vehicles, along with a TTSIDA membership sticker. If a licence application is refused, she said, the relevant minister must give a reason.

TTSIDA official Razia Ria Mohammed revealed the association has 25,000 members.