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Transparency needed in Govt action to close Copper Export

Transparency needed in Govt action to close Copper Export

Opposition Spokesman on Industry, Investment and Commerce Ambassador Anthony Hylton, is calling on the Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture & Fisheries (MICAF) to provide greater clarity on the basis for what appears to be his draconian and precipitous action in instructing the closure of copper exports from Jamaica.

The Opposition Spokesman views the Minister’s action with curiosity, given the fact that the new regime governing export of scrap metal placed copper exports on a restricted list requiring a special permit. This specifically requires the Minister’s approval after sufficient due diligence on the part of the several agencies involved, including a certificate from Factories Corporation.

The Press Reports announcing the abrupt closure of copper exports, cited the theft of copper and the consequent disruption of internet services to customers as the essential reason for the abrupt action.

While acknowledging the seriousness of the charges made by the Minister and agreeing that, if true, could warrant swift action, the Opposition Spokesman is nevertheless asking the following questions in the interest of full transparency:

1) Is the ban on copper export, a total ban covering all exporters of copper or just some;

2) If all, how are the Industrial exporters being treated under the ban and what is the rationale for this treatment?

3) If some, which exporters does the ban cover? What is the rationale for their inclusion?

4) Is there specific evidence against any or all exporters? If so, what is the nature of the evidence indicating a breach of the regulations and have charges been laid against the specific exporters?

5) How long is the ban intended to last?

6) What specific measure(s) is/are intended to be put in place during the closure of the export?

7) Are any of the internet providers, themselves exporters of copper? If yes, which ones

8) If yes, are they covered by the ban?

9) Is this the least trade restrictive measure that could have been taken in the circumstance?

Hylton said further:

“We have to be careful in the exercise of this authority where, as here, significant investments in the setting up of facilities and the purchase of goods legitimately for the export trade have been made by large, medium and small enterprises. The abrupt closure of their businesses without the opportunity for consultation can impose severe hardship and must only be done under the most dire circumstance. We need to be sure that such circumstance exists and that the Minister’s response is non-discriminatory and proportional”.