Despite appeals from the Trinidad and Tobago Scrap Metal Dealers Association (TTSIDA), the government imposed a six-month ban on exports of old metal and scrap metal.
At a press conference on Monday, Attorney General Reginald Armor confirmed that Cabinet had approved the measure in an effort to curb the escalating theft of state property and infrastructure in recent months.
Armor said the ban (a prohibition order, pursuant to Section 44 of the Customs Act) came into effect last Friday (August 12) and will expire February 23, 2023. The order includes fines and prison sentences.
The attorney general said the “regrettable step” must be taken to end the abuse of the thriving and legitimate scrap metal trade by those carrying out illegal activities.
Armor said that while the ban is meant to remain in place for six months, in recognition of the industry’s importance, it will step in for a review of the ban after three months.
In this regard, the Attorney General will submit a note to Cabinet with a review and analysis of former metals industry legislation and a review of regional and international legislation, together with recommendations for amendments.
Under the Ordinance, the export of scrap metals is prohibited except upon authorization of the manufacturer issued by the Minister of Commerce to export scrap materials as a by-product of the manufacture of products or as surplus material not necessary for their manufacturing.
The decree defines old metal and scrap metal.
Armor said: “The short point is that we have imposed a 6 month export ban. But I hope that with the hard work of the Law Reform Commission and the Chief Parliamentary Council of the Attorney General’s Office, I can return to Cabinet within 3 months to put in place a legislative and regulatory system that will enable the the ban must be less than 3 months. Because we will put in place a legislative, regulatory and enforcement process that will end what is now a thriving illegal and illicit industry that is crippling this country.
The Attorney General explained that licensing will not fall solely within the remit of the Department of Commerce, but will be reviewed by the Cabinet sub-committee, which includes the Ministers of National Security and Energy.