‘Gem and Jewellery Industry facing numerous issues’ | Daily News

‘Gem and Jewellery Industry facing numerous issues’

Sumithlal Mendis, Chairman, National Gem and Jewellery Authority, exibits a souvenir to Ahsan Refai, Chairman, Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association at the 29th edition of Facets Gem and Jewellery Exhibition. Jason Allen, Altaf Iqbal and Guest of Honour Lewis Allen look on.
Sumithlal Mendis, Chairman, National Gem and Jewellery Authority, exibits a souvenir to Ahsan Refai, Chairman, Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association at the 29th edition of Facets Gem and Jewellery Exhibition. Jason Allen, Altaf Iqbal and Guest of Honour

There are many practical issues faced by the Gem and Jewellery Industry in Sri Lanka, while the industry is struggling to achieve the US$ billion target, said Chairman, Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association, Ahsan Refai.

Thailand which become an international trading hub for gem and jewellery, generates a staggering US$ 12 billion in export revenue, while exports from Hong Kong notch US$ 30 billion. Unlike Sri Lanka, neither of these countries are famous gem producers,” he said.

In Thailand, after automotives and computers, gem and jewellery are the third highest export earner. The government supports the industry through concerted short and long term plans to promote the sector in other countries, while supporting the industry growth at home. Similarly, Hong Kong, as a commercial hub for gems and jewellery, is the only tax-free port in Asia.

Sri Lanka being a famous producing country, has immense potential to become a bustling trading hub. “Our successive governments should take a proactive stand in consultation with the private sector to study and learn about the policies adopted by these experienced gem and jewellery hubs to encourage the growth of the industry.” Our dealers visit the mines in Tanzania, Madagascar, Kenya, Mozambique and Ethiopia among other countries and compete with the Thais as well as other nationals to bring back valuable rough gemstones. “Once the gem stones are brought back and value added, their exports are taxed.” We must encourage our dealers to bring in rough material to Sri Lanka, cut and polish and export the value-added product. This tremendous value addition in comparison to other industries, should be encouraged and welcomed by the government in order to bring in valuable foreign exchange.”

“We must encourage not only our local dealers to bring in rough, but also foreigners from African gem producing countries to bring in rough material and sell in Sri Lanka. The raw materials will not only provide value addition, but also stimulate the gem cutting and jewellery manufacturing industries and increase export growth and value, as this is the key to success in Thailand.”

The government should sit together in consultation with the private sector in order to come up with short and long term plans and policies to achieve our goals.

“It is also sad to note that the National Gem and Jewellery Authority have had three Chairmen over the last year, while 7 Chairmen have changed since 2015. We believe the industry would benefit greatly from having a stable, professional leadership to develop the trade.”

Our exporters had set up a fund about 10 years ago under the NGJA, to establish an internationally reputed gem laboratory. It is unfortunate that even after a decade, the money collected by the exporters remain unused in the Bank without proper direction.”

Today, dealers must send their gemstones either to Bangkok or Hong Kong in order to certify them, while it wastes valuable foreign exchange. A certificate could cost between US$ 200 to 4,000, depending on the urgency and quality of the stone. Had the initiative been taken 10 years ago, Sri Lanka could have risen to prominence as a hub for certifying stones and would have saved millions of dollars in foreign exchange.”

 


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