Government notes scrap iron dealers’ efforts

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MEETING: Energy Minister Stuart Young, left, and Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon speak with two members of the Scrap Iron Dealers Association on Wednesday in Port of Spain. PHOTO COURTESY THE ENERGY MINISTRY – Energy Ministry

ENERGY Minister Stuart Young said Government acknowledged efforts being made by the Trinidad and Tobago Scrap Iron Dealers Association to regularise their industry.

At a news conference on Thursday, association president Allan Ferguson listed some short term and interim measures to deal with the theft of scrap iron in TT. These included rollout of badges and stickers for scrap iron collectors affiliated with the association.

These announcements came after the association met on Wednesday with a Cabinet sub committee that has been appointed to examine issues related to the theft of scrap iron. Young is the chairman of that committee. Other members include Attorney General Reginald Armour SC, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon and National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds.

On Friday, Young said, “The scrap iron dealers association acknowledges that there is criminal behaviour negatively affecting the population and they are doing their part to suggest possible measures to combat the serious issues that are affecting the population.”

He recalled the sub-committee’s cordial and productive meeting with the association on Wednesday. The sub-committee listened to the association’s proposals and suggestions.

Young said, “There can be no doubt that the theft of metals, not limited to copper, is a serious problem and national security issue.”

He noted that reports of the thefts of metal items such as church bells, manhole covers, gates, cable, compressors and pumps ran into millions of dollars, and said “There is a need for urgent intervention.”

Young said the sub-committee has written to other stakeholders and asked them to submit their recommendations about how to deal with the theft of scrap iron by July 27.

“Thereafter, we will consider the various matters and make our recommendations to the Cabinet via the National Security Council (NSC)”

Both are chaired by the Prime Minister.

At a post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s on July 7, Dr Keith Rowley had said, “As a matter of national security, I have asked the Attorney General whether we should prevent, for a restricted time, the marketing of used metals in Trinidad and Tobago… Manhole covers, they selling that. They cut the cable. Now they cutting the water lines.”

Rowley did not provide additional details on the steps to be taken. He said he is awaiting the guidance of Armour.

Rowley said the purpose of the measure would be to deny the incentive of sale as the materials being stolen for sale are imported. He said without a resale market, the theft of copper could be thwarted.

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