The Factories Corporation of Jamaica (FCJ) will be taking the necessary steps to ensure that the requirements stipulated by the National Environmental and Planning Agency (NEPA) for the scrap metal sites are put in place.
This was disclosed by Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, in a Statement to the House of Representatives, on Tuesday (January 29).
Allegations have been made in the media that the scrap metal sites are being operated in the absence of the required environmental permit.
Mr. Hylton noted that this was a “clear misunderstanding” based on a lack of clarity arising from the recent changes in the operating structure.
He said Cabinet had initially approved a single central site, but based on discussions with the Scrap Metal Federation, the decision was taken to have several multi-user sites.
“It was agreed that these three sites would be managed by the Factories Corporation of Jamaica. The understanding was that the owners of the sites had or would have obtained the requisite permit from NEPA. Now that there is clarity concerning NEPA’s requirements, the FCJ has taken steps to immediately address the issue,” Mr. Hylton said.
He added that the Government has no intention to breach any laws or policy and so will be adhering to the requirements and conditions of NEPA.
“Additionally, we have made arrangements for NEPA to conduct routine inspections of the sites to ensure that there is no contravention of environmental laws. In addition to the foreign exchange earnings and the job creation, the scrap metal trade also clears the environment of derelict scrap metal,” Mr. Hylton pointed out.
After more than year of closure, the scrap metal trade officially opened on January 28, 2013. In preparation for the opening, great care was taken to ensure that the infrastructure and systems are the most effective for the industry at this time.
All of the sites have 24-hour video surveillance, which is monitored off site, in addition to daytime security provided by the security forces.
The Minister also informed that traders, dealers and exporters are in the process of getting themselves properly legitimized, acquiring the various permits, licences and police recommendations, in order to carry out the various activities associated with the trade.
The scrap metal trade is part of the global value chain, and at its zenith in 2006 earned the country US$100 million in foreign exchange and provided jobs for over 10,000 persons, many from the lower socio-economic group.