The issues faced by the gem and jewellery industry in Sri Lanka were discussed in the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Sustainable Development which met recently, under the chairmanship of Hon. Ajith Mannapperuma, Member of Parliament.
In this committee meeting, representatives of Sri Lanka’ s gems and jewellery business associations participated and presented the current issues faced by them.
Thus, the need for a national policy regarding the gem and jewellery industry was emphasized and a proposal related to a national policy prepared by a business association was presented to the committee.
Accordingly, the chairman of the committee, Hon. Ajith Mannapperuma, instructed to take the next steps to prepare a national policy with the consensus of all stakeholders.
Hon. Sajith Premadasa, the Leader of the Opposition, who participated in this meeting, stated that the problems in this sector could be classified under the following sectors: gem mining, gem cutting, polishing, and value adding, trade activities including import and export, trade promotion, etc. Hon. Premadasa further mentioned that a report should be prepared and brought to the attention of the Gem and Jewellery Authority, Ministry of Finance, and relevant institutions. The representatives also pointed out the facts about the difficulties in obtaining permits for gem mining. The committee emphasized that the process can be made efficient by issuing licenses jointly to all relevant agencies for the issuance of licenses at least one day a week at the regional office of the Gems and Jewelery Authority.
Meanwhile, the representatives pointed out that due to the ban on the import of gold, the business community involved in the jewelry manufacturing industry, targeting the tourism sector, is suffering currently.
It was revealed that these business community who deal only in foreign currency brings a huge amount of foreign exchange to the country and proposed to use a part of that foreign exchange they earn and allow them to import gold for the business. It was also stated that due to the taxes imposed by the government on the gems and jewelery industry, the businessmen engaged in this sector are suffering.
Accordingly, the chairman of the committee said that the attention of the Ministry of Finance will be given to these matters immediately. The decrease in the number of workers entering the gem and jewelery industry was also discussed. The MPs and the representatives present pointed out the need to establish training institutes in the areas where this industry is based and take steps to popularize this sector.
The use of new technology in the field of gem and jewellery, issues arising in export, tax issues etc. were also discussed in the committee. Accordingly, the problems presented in this committee will be prepared as a report and steps will be taken to find solutions to them after discussions with the responsible institutions, the chairman of the committee said.
Leader of the opposition Hon. Sajith Premadasa, committee members Hon. Akila Ellawala, Hon. Waruna Liyanage, Hon. Nalaka Bandara Kottegoda and Hon. (Dr.) Thilak Rajapaksa and Member of Parliament Hon. Chandima Weerakkodi also participated in this committee meeting.