The six-month closure of T&T’s scrap iron industry could result in a loss of $130 million in revenue, as the industry is said to generate close to $260m annually.
The claim was made by T&T Scrap Iron Dealers’ Association president Allan Ferguson during a media conference yesterday, as he again urged the Government to rescind the six-month ban on exports. He also said they will stage a rally from the Brian Lara Promenade, Port-of-Spain, next Wednesday from 9 am.
“All the persons who agree that we were treated unfairly and those affected, please come out! I want all householders, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, I am asking you all to come out, this is an attack on poor people,” he said.
“No meeting could stop this action and the only thing for us to stop is to open the industry. I am calling on Mr Ancel Roget and his unions to give us support, TSTT and WASA workers, I am also calling on all civil society groups in Trinidad and Tobago to come and see the attack on poor people business, come and support this to save this industry.”
Ferguson said he intends to visit scrap iron workers in Claxton Bay, following their fiery protests over the closure of the industry on Tuesday and yesterday.
“We want the people in Claxton Bay to know that to give us some days. We cannot let allow people to be hurt so and I tell a lot of people that Claxton Bay is the main area of scrap in Trinidad and Tobago, it comes like the headquarters for scrap iron in the country and that is why we have so much action on that side and there are some things taking place to make us look bad,” he said.
Ferguson also commented on PLIPDECO’s announcement yesterday of a ban on the export of metals from the port.
“What they are doing now to make us look bad, Trinidad and Tobago, I want you all to remember my association asking the port to scan all the containers going to the port, but what they are doing now, because there are a lot of containers on the port because the ship did not ship in time, you know what they are going to do now, they are asking for those containers with scrap iron and metals to be removed and checked.
Advisor to the association, Kenny Plaza, said the industry makes over $230 million a year.
“Approximately 2,000 workers are directly affected in this industry presently. Presently, 5 to 8 thousand who are the collectors on the street that we normally see and there are the indirect people, which are the haulier, custom brokers … so affected with the closure for the next six months, over 15,000 persons,” he said.
“Two hundred and 60 million dollars annually and closure of the industry for six months means that the industry will lose close to 130 million dollars. Does the Government have a plan in place to supplement this loss of income, because this income really, only about 5 to 10 per cent really goes into the hands of scrap iron dealers, the rest trickles down to lower society in Trinidad and Tobago. So, what the Government has in place to supplement this 130 million dollars that would not be trickling down in the sector?”
The Government has banned the exportation of old and scrap iron for six months in an effort to crack down on the illegal harvesting of metals from public and private facilities. The ban went into effect last Friday and will run until February 23, 2023. However, Attorney General Reginald Armour will go back to Cabinet in three months with a review of the legislation to see if it can expire then.
During the ban, the Ministry of Trade and Industry will review applications for licenses for export, which will first be reviewed by a Cabinet sub-committee. The Cabinet sub-committee features Minister of Energy Stuart Young, Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds, Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon and the AG.