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Gemming industry latest boon to Sri Lanka's national economy
Gemstones originating from Sri Lanka are a big hit worldwide

Sri Lanka depicts a tiny dot in the map of the world. Three major exporting commodities, Rubber, Tea and Coconut once placed this tiny speck in the world map to earn her foreign exchange and became known among overseas traders and importers. Of late, the English gentleman's game of cricket placed Sri Lanka on the plinth of popularity. The on-going terrorist war has made its name filter through mass media to every nook and corner of the world. Athletes like Susanthika Jayasinghe, followed by various other sports men and women at international level have made the name Sri Lanka reverberate on international billboards and television screens.

Yet, how many are fully knowledgeable about the great treasures buried under this amazing island's own chattels? Although many have been talking about Sri Lankan precious stones on the British Crown, not sparing the late 'Princess Diana's expensive Blue Sapphire from Sri Lanka', yet not many have made any serious attempts, for too long, to explain or educate the international community at large about the prevalent gemming industry in Sri Lanka and the craftsmen's skills available here to cut and polish such regal jewels to radiate majestically.

Leave alone the foreigners and international markets, how many people in Sri Lanka itself are aware that nearly three quarters of our land is blessed with gems buried in 46 proposed identification locations spread right across the country? NGJA's National Gem and Jewellery Authority new schemes include ECommerce facility through its own website - www.srilankagemautho.com  enabling traders to transact online. Steps were taken to initiate training programmes in Thailand as per a MoU singed between the NGJA and the Thai Jewellery Manufacturers Association; highest sponsorship package offered towards FACETS in 2007, currently they are in the process of finalizing details with the SLGIA on the proposed Gem Testing Laboratory to be established in collaboration with the private sector; Have initiated steps to establish a 'Gem Museum' at the premises of the National Museum in Colombo; Established a ' Round the Clock' export facilitation unit at the Air Cargo Village at Katunayake.

NGJA policy to relax the stringent restrictions at the airport which virtually throttled all opportunities of importing gems to the country with no more 'leave at Customs and clear later' regulations but with 'immediate clearance' facilities along with a reduction of the 30% import tax to a bare minimum of 3% made the industry boom and bring positive results during the 2nd half of 2007. Further concessions granted to the industry is the exemption of duty and Value Added Tax (VAT) under Sri Lanka regulations on all imports of precious metals and gems including diamonds.

The latest research by the Gem and Jewellery Research and Training Institute show 46 'proposed identified' sites of gem deposits in Sri Lanka. Distribution of gem minerals spread from Mihintale down to Ridiyagama down south embracing Kantale, Lunugala, Getahatta, Eheliyagoda, Kuruwita, Hatton, Maskeliya, Moneragala, Okkampitiya, Kiriella, Bulathsinghala, Ratnapura Pelmadulla, Balangoda, Agalawatta, Akarella, Nivithigala, Rakwana, Kalawana, Deniyaya, Embilipitiya, Kataragama, Elpitiya, Meetiyagoda, Morawaka, Ridiyagama, and Akuressa. Recent gem deposits found by the GJRTI include Naula, Bakamuna, Elahera, Attaragallewa, Kaluganga, Hattota Amuna, Ballapana, Galapitamada and Akarella.

There is a great opportunity for Sri Lanka to prosper in the future if correct polices are revised and continued to utilize gems buried in the above mentioned sites.

It is also stated that around 6000 Sri Lankans working in Thailand in the gem trade at present are using illegal means to smuggle out Sri Lanka's precious stones in most devious means, even under stringent government controls. Should such an environment become inevitable, then it is suggested that gemming should not be restricted to only a chosen few but free to all, while making the NHJA as custodians with certain amount of powers to monitor. In its endeavors to promote the industry, the National Gem and Jewellery Authority "NGJA" has made arrangements to organize "Sri Lanka Pavilion's" at eight major gem and Jewellery shows in 2008.