We are in the dark: Scrap dealers

Posted on 1 November 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

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Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Scrap Metals Recycle Association (SSMRA) regrets the State Local Government and Housing Ministry’s failure to provide it with a guideline on business procedures with Sabah’s sole exporter of scrap metal, Superpanel Sdn Bhd.

Its President, Jennifer Hiew, said with the deadline on the implementation of the new policy on scrap metal on Nov. 1, members have yet to be given any details about Superpanel.

Superpanel, a newly established Government-linked Company (GLC) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Sabah Housing and Town Development Authority (SHTDA).

It was appointed as the sole exporter of scrap metals and recyclables in the State following a State Cabinet decision on Aug. 6, this year, as a measure to resolve the serious metal thefts in the State.

A directive was issued to all local authorities in the State on Sept. 26 instructing them to stop renewing existing trading licences and against issuing new ones.

Effective Nov. 1, applicants for scrap metal trading licence must first be registered with Superpanel which also has the power to approve.

“But with only one day before the Nov. 1 deadline, the Ministry has not given us a proper guideline on how we are supposed to work with Superpanel.

“Yet they have proceeded to stop the renewal of our trading licence which has indefinitely put us out of business,” she said in a statement.

According to her, many members were forced to cease operations after they received the notification on Oct. 22, informing them of the Ministry’s directive.

The members “were not only furious but were also upset” because Superpanel could not provide any information about the company’s setup and operating procedure.

Superpanel, during a meeting with SSMRA arranged by City Hall Director-General Datuk Dr Chua Kim Hing Oct. 28, said it was still waiting for instructions from the Local Government and Housing Minister on how to go about dealing with scrap metal dealers.

According to Jennifer, the move to appoint a sole exporter was monopolistic, unfair, cruel and inhumane and contradicted the caring image of the Barisan Nasional (BN).

“The BN Government like any caring government around the world, should by right, strive to assist legitimate businesses during the current economic crisis and depression instead of depriving us at the expense of a privileged few,” she said.

She said the action has far-reaching implications on society as a whole as the majority of those involved in the scrap metal trade are poor and still servicing bank loans.

She claimed the Ministry’s rationale that the sole exporter move was aimed at stopping metal thefts in the State does not hold water and was questionable.

“Can the company (Superpanel) guarantee there will be no more metal thefts after it starts operating?” she asked.

She regretted that the Ministry proceeded with its decision despite strong objections from industry players who had shown their commitment through the establishment of the SSMRA and the “19-points proposals” on how to tackle the thefts.

The SSMRA, she said, questioned the Ministry’s motive for the Superpanel to take full control in the export of scrap metals and other recyclables in the State.

She hoped Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman would intervene. “If all avenues are exhausted, the association will be considering seeking legal means to address the matter.” The association has 46 members statewide.

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