(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –A discussion was held under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena regarding the issues faced by the gem businessmen and gem mining industry, at the Presidential Secretariat, yesterday (13).
During this meeting, the representatives presented in detail the difficulties faced by them to the President, due to the examination of licenses as well as arrests made by persons who are not belong to the National Gem and Jewellery Authority at the legally authorized mining premises. The President said that those investigations should carry out without hindering persons who are engaged in that activity legally.
They also pointed out that issues have arisen in the industry due to allowing of the mining activities only in the time period of 6.00 a.m to 6.00 p.m. The water draining in mines should be started at 2.00 am and all day and night the maintenance work must be carried out to prevent the collapse of mine walls. Later, the President instructed the relevant authorities to remove the time restrictions.
Furthermore, the President apprised regarding the problems on issuing licenses, and the President instructed the officials to follow an efficient as well as proper system to issue licenses and to grant the permission of relevant institutions including the Department of Agrarian Services within one week.
The President also paid his attention regarding the request made by them on new tax imposed on gem exports in the new budget and said that a decision will be taken in the next Cabinet meeting regarding the tax proposal.
The President instructed the Gem and Jewelery Authority to limit the mining using bachoe machines and to allow the use of these machinery in the places permitted by the Gem and Jewelery Authority as well as to conduct it under the supervision of Gem and Jewelery Authority.
During this meeting the representatives briefed the President on the non-implementation of the proposals submitted by the association on previous occasions, and the President taking into consideration this issue, instructed the Secretary to the Ministry of Mahaweli development and Environment to submit a report within a two weeks stating the facts that have already implanted out of that proposal as well as regarding the decisions that had not been implemented.
Expressing his views the President said that it is the responsibility of the gem industrialists to pay their special attention regarding the environmental conservation.
One of the main reasons for the recent floods that affected several districts was the mine digging and not taking action to conserve these areas, and also said that one of the main reasons to spread Dengue fever in the district is the illegal mining activities.
The President also noted that the government has taken many steps to uplift the lives of those who work in the gem industry. The President also appreciated their contribution in bringing in foreign exchange into the country. The representatives of the gem industry presented many ideas and suggestions on the steps that should be taken to develop the gem industry.
Ministers W.D.J. Seneviratne, Thalatha Athukorala, the Secretary to the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment Anura Dissanayake, D.M.D.O.K Dissanayake, Chairman of the National Gem & Jewellery Authority and many others participated on this occasion.