Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 March 2021, 15:51 by Denis Chabrol
The Guyana Metal Recyclers Association (GMRA) on Wednesday urged President Irfaan Ali to intervene and lift the export ban on scrap metal because the 23 exporters could not wait until a new container scanner is installed.
The association disagreed with the stance being taken by the Ministry of Tourism and Commerce, Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) because other exports are continuing without restriction. “Everything else is being scanned. If the scanner is effective for one product, it should be for the other,” she said.
GMRA Treasurer, Shalini Dias said the Minister of Tourism and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond indicated that she was ready to lift the ban but CANU was not ready.
The association official acknowledged the need for intensive investigations into the large cocaine busts, but urged authorities to “be realistic scrap metal trade is not the only trade that has a cocaine bust; this happens to every trade.”
At least 150 containers of scrap metal usually leave Guyana monthly when the trade is in full swing
International anti-narcotics experts have said that it is more difficult to detect cocaine from among huge chunks of containerised scrap metal.
The GMRA said Guyanese authorities have halted the export of scrap metal ever since the 11.5 ton cocaine bust in Belgium in early December 2020 because the narcotic had been found in containers that had originated from Guyana.
Association officials said the shipper, Marlon Primo, was not a member of their body. Documents show that he was responsible for the five containers of scrap metal that left Guyana for Europe.
Several exporters complained that the halt in the trade was affecting them badly with servicing loans and meeting personal expenses especially during the pandemic. “My children don’t have any Internet at the moment because I don’t have any money to pay the net and I am asking the President of this country to please help us out and reopen this trade because we are suffering; we are having things stored and the dealers cannot buy it and we have no money to get it,” said one of the exporters who is a father of seven.