Business News of Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Source: Daily Graphic
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI) has reminded Ghanaians that there exists an administrative ban on the export of ferrous scrap metals in the country since the 1980s.
Soon, a Legislative Instrument (LI) to ban the export of ferrous scrap metals would be laid before Parliament as the process has reached an advanced stage, and the Ministry believes that will make the issues of the ban on the export of the metals and the sanctions for non-compliance much clearer.
These are contained in a statement signed by Nana Akrasi Sarpong, Acting Director of Communications and Public Affairs of the Ministry, in reaction to an article, published in the Enquirer Newspaper dated Thursday, January 24, 2013 and other print and electronic media in the country, with the headline: “Dark Clouds over 31 Containers of Seized Scrap Metals”, copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Wednesday.
It said: “significant investment has been made locally to process scrap for the production of metal products, especially for the construction industry, and it is in the interest of the public and the country to ensure that such businesses have sufficient raw materials for production provided that they do not engage in price fixing activities and are ready to pay the market value for the scrap.”
The Ministry noted that ferrous scrap metal was a major raw material used by the local steel mills and foundries, and its exportation had been restricted by an administrative ban to reduce the foreign exchange spent on the importation of billets as raw materials for the steel mill.
The statement said “the Ministry issued a notice on the temporary ban on export of ferrous scrap metal to exporters as far back as 20th May, 2002, to protect the local steel industry and the Commissioner of Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) was duly informed about the measure.
“In 2008, some flexibility was introduced to allow some quantities of ferrous and non-ferrous scrap metals to be exported, and every potential exporter is required to submit an application and some specific documents on the operations of the exporting company for consideration before any permission is granted. It is preceded by a directive issued to potential exporters in the dailies in June 2008.”
The statement said, subsequently, the Ministry decided to further streamline the process by developing a legislative instrument to govern the export of non-ferrous scrap metals and though the Legislative Instrument, L.I. 1969, which banned the export of ferrous scrap metals passed in 2010, a process had been defined to regulate the export of non-ferrous scrap metals, while the ban on the exportation of ferrous scrap metals remained in force.
It said the L.I 1969, specifically warned exporters not to add iron or carbon steel scraps to the non-ferrous scrap metals for export, failure of which constituted a punishable offence.
The statement explained that this could lead to payment of a fine and confiscation of the products to the state, and explained that even the provisions of L.I 1969 provided the legal basis for the ban on the export of ferrous scrap metals.
It said: “Apart from the contents of the L.I 1969, sufficient notice to the general public has been made available by the Ministry through advertisements in the national dailies to guide exporters of scrap metals as to the permissible scrap metals that qualified for export under the legislative instrument. The restrictions contained in L.I. 1969 can be legally extended to cover “ferrous” scrap metals as the term ferrous includes iron and carbon steel.”
“A legislative instrument banning the export of ferrous scrap metals will soon come into being as processes for its promulgation are far advanced. The draft Legislative Instrument has been reviewed and approved by cabinet, and is currently being finalised for gazetting and subsequent submission to Parliament by the Attorney General’s Department and Ministry of Trade and Industry.”
The statement explained that though section 12 of L.I. 1969 appeared cumbersome to enforce, in the circumstances it was the means that was available to deal with infractions of the law and it should be enforced until such time that other legislative measures were put in place.
It said: “With regard to who will be responsible for the prosecution, the Ministry is of the view that the Attorney General’s Department with the assistance from the impounding agency such as Customs should take charge of that matter. On the other hand Customs may discuss this further with the Attorney General’s Department to have the appropriate guidance on the matter.”
The statement said concerning the action needed to be taken on the seized scrap metals, the Ministry had informed CEPS that the detention be converted to seizure under Customs law and the Commissioner should dispose of the goods in accordance with Customs procedures.
It said the Ministry “is of the view that as public officers, once a law has been passed or a legislative instrument comes into force, it is not for any public officer to decide how convenient or otherwise it is to implement any legislation in force.
“The issue to be addressed is to determine the steps that need to be taken to enforce the law effectively. We are, therefore, urging Customs to discuss the issue of enforcement and the conduct of prosecutions with the Attorney General’s Department as a matter of urgency.
“A second look will have to be taken at L.I.1969 regarding how efficiently and expeditiously its provisions can be implemented without impeding legitimate trade and even the Ministry has requested CEPS to bring their suggestions for amendment.”