Research Paper on Scrap Metal Trade in Jamaica

Topics: Jamaica, Theft, Scrap Pages: 9 (3007 words) Published: November 29, 2012
The scrap metal trade is a very controversial topic in Jamaica in recent times. Outside of registered dealers/traders, the industry has garnered interests from many others as it has become a way of life for providing quick income for households. Although the trade started out as a livelihood for these persons the paradigm has shifted and now stems more negatives than positives as unscrupulous persons has used it as an avenue to participate in illegal activities that resulted in the government (Dr. Christopher Tufton – Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce at the time) instituting an indefinite ban on the Scrap Metal trade in Jamaica in July of 2011. Jamaica has had a number of reported cases of theft of valuable equipment and infrastructure over the last four years amounting to approximately $1 billion (Barrett, 2011). It is for this reason many argue this industry is doing us more harm than good. Scrap Metal theft however is not exclusive to Jamaica; it is a global concern and has been for the past 10 years. Kooi (2010) articulates that the rise in Scrap metal theft is driven by offenders’ recognition that ample metal supplies remain unguarded and that the price of return remains historically high based on heavy international demand. The market conditions made unsecured metal susceptible to increased theft, while causing a boom in scrap metal exports that increased the scrap metal theft problem. It is evident that the scrap metal trade offered both positives and negatives to our country’s economy. It has provided job opportunities to many youths and has given them a sense of achievement as the income allows them to positively contribute to society and their families. It has also been the largest contributor in earnings to the export section “Crude Materials” for many years (STATIN, 2012). There has been some discourse from the new Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Andrew Hylton on reopening the trade with tough new regulations. This is controversial as the industry is earning less than the losses associated with it. This research seeks to address the questions: 1) What is the public’s sentiment on this controversial issue being faced by our country? 2) How great an effect does legislation have on illegal trading of Scrap Metal presently? 3) Does the problem exist in enforcement of the legislation in place for the Scrap Metal Industry? 4) What punishment measures are in place presently and do they differ from what Jamaican people want in place for Scrap Metal Theft? Statement of the problem:

There has been a tremendous level of theft of infrastructure reported from private companies being traded illegally. The focal point of this research is to explore the influence of legislation, enforcement (or lack thereof) of this legislation and punishment measures on illegal trading of Scrap Metal. Significance of the study:

The contribution of the Scrap Metal trade to Jamaica’s earnings is significant, however the losses from theft and illegal trading supersedes its gains. It’s been over a year since the ban was instituted on the Scrap Metal trade and many are still suffering. The placard of a protester (someone who used to have a livelihood from collecting scrap metal) in Riverton Meadows last November read “When we have no work our kids are robbed of their future” (Jamaica Observer, November 9 2011). It’s hard not to be concerned about the future of our children. But it is also hard to see the detriment this is causing our nation “Bridges? Water Pipes? Telephone cables? Railway lines? Gates? Road Signs? Not even the dead are spared as these worthless scavengers dig up graves in order to rob the coffins of metal handles.” (Editorial - Jamaica Observer July 28 2011, para.2).As a developing nation, we need to foster growth in all our sectors but at the same time we need to be operating in public interest and for the good of the whole instead of only in the interest of particulars. Hence, in order...
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