The exports of gems and jewellery have generated an income of USD 315 million from January of this year to date, State Minister for Primary Industries Chamara Sampath Dasanayake announced.
He further highlighted that the gems and jewellery sector has demonstrated an impressive export growth rate of 34%, a fact corroborated by reports from the Central Bank.
State Minister Dasanayake made these remarks at the media briefing held at the Presidential Media Center yesterday (Aug. 22).
The full statement of the State Minister for Primary Industries Chamara Sampath Dasanayake:
The National Gem and Jewellery Authority stands as a pivotal contributor to our nation’s foreign exchange reserves. We have undertaken numerous strategic decisions concerning the operations of this authority. In the previous year, we achieved a significant income of USD 230 million through gem exports. Notably, in the year (2023), our gem and jewellery exports have yielded a substantial revenue of USD 315 million.
Historically, concerns arose regarding the remittance of foreign exchange earned through gem exports. To address these issues, a novel customs clearance system was devised under the aegis of the new government. Presently, each exported gem is meticulously assessed to ensure the inflow of foreign exchange. In the past, our gems were auctioned abroad, but our country did not receive the appropriate remuneration.
The Central Bank’s reports confirm a remarkable 34% growth in export revenue for the Gems and Jewellery Authority. Steps have also been taken to resolve exporters’ challenges, with open lines of communication for exporters accessible at all times.
Last year, the authority’s revenue from licensing and assessment fees amounted to a modest Rs. 144 million. However, this year alone, the authority has recorded a substantial profit of Rs. 288 million. Consequently, we have devised strategies to enhance the authority’s profits by a remarkable 200% by year-end.
In the past, foreign exchange reserves were scarce in our nation. The Ministry of Primary Industries has spearheaded initiatives to alleviate this issue.
Furthermore, it is worth noting that our employees are not reliant on government salaries. The Gems and Jewellery Authority, independently, contributes between Rs. 50 and 100 million to the Ministry of Finance, underscoring our commitment to the nation’s economic well-being.
Furthermore, it’s worth noting that a mere six months have elapsed since I assumed leadership of the Phosphate Institute. Originally falling under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Industry after being transferred from the Ministry of Agriculture, the Phosphate Institute was subsequently placed under the umbrella of the Ministry of Primary Industries by the President’s decree. When I took the helm of this institution, it was saddled with a bank overdraft of Rs. 150 million, leading to a precarious situation where employee salaries couldn’t be met. Today, I am pleased to report that all these challenges have been successfully resolved.
The ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict has led to a surge in demand for our phosphates. Moreover, a protracted 23-year-old controversy surrounding the phosphate trade within the country has been finally laid to rest. This legal matter had previously impeded our ability to export phosphates. However, its resolution has swiftly yielded a profit of Rs. 143 million in just a span of two weeks.
Furthermore, the BCC company experienced a period of dormancy before reactivating its operations using refurbished machinery. Consequently, BCC has managed to operate in a manner that doesn’t burden the government’s finances. Impressively, the BCC company alone has contributed around Rs. 25 million to the national treasury when required.
Additionally, the nation boasts the potential to accrue between USD 400 and 500 million through the various institutions aligned with the Ministry of Primary Industries. It’s important to acknowledge that these endeavours encounter diverse hindrances and challenges along the way. Nonetheless, in order for our country to thrive without the weight of debt, a collective effort is imperative.