The President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Gem and Jewellery Authority Mr. Viraj de Silva stated that they anticipate generating annual revenue of US$ 2 billion by the year 2025 through the export of gems.
The chairman highlighted that during the initial 7 months of this year, they have already amassed a revenue of US$ 312 million through gem exports. They further project that by the end of this year, the earnings will reach US$ 500 million.
He also focussed attention to the implementation of a programme in accordance with President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s directives, aimed at curbing the illegal export of gems. This illegal export has posed a significant challenge to achieving the US$ 2 billion target.
Consequently, Mr. Viraj de Silva indicated that necessary measures will be promptly taken to facilitate direct gem purchases by foreign buyers through auctions within the country.
These insights were shared by Mr. Viraj De Silva, the Chairman of the National Gem and Jewellery Authority, during his participation in the 101 Katha’ programme produced by the Presidential Media Division.
Expressing his views further Mr de Silva said;
The Gem and Jewellery Authority Act governs a range of regulatory tasks, spanning from authorizing mining permits to overseeing the export of gemstones. Our regulatory responsibilities encompass processes such as auctions, sales and international shipments. All of these endeavours are geared towards benefiting the nation. Furthermore, we undertake both local and international promotional initiatives, with a strong emphasis on maximizing foreign exchange inflow into the country.
With six regional offices scattered across the nation, the Gem and Jewellery Authority actively monitors activities through these branches. Notably, gems discovered within mines cannot be sold arbitrarily; rather, they must be presented at public auctions in accordance with the nation’s legal stipulations. This practice ensures transparency and adherence to the law.
From the proceeds of gemstone sales, the government receives a share amounting to 2.5%. Recent events have showcased a substantial growth in mining activities, resulting in the sale of a gem worth a remarkable Rs. 400 million. This upsurge in mining efforts has contributed to a notable increase in the revenue generated from gem sales.
Stringent conditions are placed on the operation of gem mines. Any engagement in illegal mining activities can lead to the revocation of licenses. Furthermore, the exportation of gemstones is subject to specific protocols. Following the discovery of a gemstone, it must undergo a process of polishing and subsequent auctioning under the auspices of the Gem and Jewellery Authority.
Currently, an investigation is underway to identify instances where activities are being conducted without the approval of the Gem and Jewellery Authority. President Ranil Wickremesinghe has also issued directives to delve into this matter, reflecting the seriousness with which these issues are being addressed.
Between January and July of this year, the export of gems has generated a substantial income of US$ 312 million. However, there exists untapped potential for even greater financial gains.
In contrast to other sectors, the Gem and Jewellery Authority has achieved an impressive export growth rate of 34%. Notably, this growth rate surpasses that of the tea and garment industries, as evidenced by reports from the Central Bank.
Gems discovered in this manner are the collective property of the entire nation. It is imperative that the country receives their rightful value. This could prove invaluable in alleviating the current economic challenges.
The export of gems has the potential to yield an average annual income of US$ 2 billion. Sri Lanka should aspire to become a prominent hub for gem trade on the global stage. Our on-going efforts reflect this ambition, with the projected income from the gem industry expected to reach US$ 500 million by year’s end.
Expanding the number of exporters engaged in these activities is a crucial endeavour. Presently, everyday citizens participate in this industry. We have initiated a program aimed at expanding the gem export process, inviting those interested in the field to join us in this endeavour. Our primary objective is to identify buyers and cultivate new markets.
Furthermore, proactive measures have been implemented to prevent irregularities within the Gem and Jewellery Authority. To address the potential for financial improprieties arising from long-term officer tenure, a formal transfer policy has been introduced. Additionally, the integration of accounting software has effectively eliminated any room for financial misconduct.
It is also within our institution’s responsibility to validate the quality of gold items owned by Sri Lankan citizens. Thus, individuals have the option to visit our office and assess the quality of their gold possessions. The certification bestowed by the Gem and Jewellery Authority significantly enhances the value of one’s gold items.