Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC. FILE PHOTO –
THE immediate future of the much-maligned local scrap-iron industry could be decided on Friday when Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, sits down with executives of the industry’s association at Government Campus Plaza in Port of Spain.
President of the Scrap Iron Dealers Association Allan Ferguson is expected to be up front and centre at this crunch talks with AG Armour scheduled for 9.30 am.
Ferguson himself confirmed the meeting in a message sent to Newsday on Thursday. He said the top of the agenda will be discussions on the association’s suggestions for the regulation of the industry.
The meeting comes a little over three months after Government imposed a six-month ban on the import and export of scrap metal in the wake of an exponential rise in crimes involving the theft of metals from private properties and from state-owned installations including overhead TSTT cables, manhole covers and WASA’s brass plumbing fixtures. Even a church bell was stolen.
The ban is set to end on February 23, but there is an expectation by association members that it could be lifted once agreement is made on a detailed industry regulation policy.
Armour is said to have spent the last three months reviewing the industry with a goal of drafting a regulatory framework which is expected to be discussed fully on Friday.
President of the Scrap Iron Dealers Association Allan Ferguson. FILE PHOTO –
At a joint press conference with the Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds, on August 12, Amour said he planned to approach Cabinet in November with proposed legislation aimed at monitoring and reducing crime and criminality in the industry.
Once Cabinet agrees that the AG’s proposal can regulate the industry and specifically cut down or even eradicate incidences of theft and unlawful trade in copper and other metals, the ban will be lifted.
In September, government allocated $600,000 toward development of a policy to strengthen the existing regulatory framework governing the scrap metal industry.
Even as Armour was working on the draft legislation, the association had been demanding the industry be reopened citing serious financial burden on scrap iron dealers.
In August, Southern Division Task Force police arrested seven scrap-iron workers after a night protest in Claxton Bay. The association also hosted a motorcade to shows its dissatisfaction over the closure.
Ferguson told Newsday on Thursday that he and his team will be going into the meeting with Armour with open minds.
“We want the industry to be reopened with proper protocols and procedures in place. That is our main focus,” Ferguson said.