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RPCs have not looked at welfare of estate workers – Dr Pathirana

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Founder Gem Research Swiss Lab, Dr. A. Peretti, Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana and MP and Chairman CGJTA Rizwan Nayeem and Vice Chairman, Rizwan Nayeem. Picture by B. M. Mukthar Beruwela Special Corr
Founder Gem Research Swiss Lab, Dr. A. Peretti, Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana and MP and Chairman CGJTA Rizwan Nayeem and Vice Chairman, Rizwan Nayeem. Picture by B. M. Mukthar Beruwela Special Corr

Though the tea sector generates around USD 1.3 million, most regional plantation companies (RPC) have not not looked at the welfare of its workers who are living in very poor conditions, said Minister of Plantation Dr. Ramesh Pathirana.

Speaking at the inaugural China Fort Gem and Jewellery Association (CGJTA) inaugural Congress he said that the large amount of money earned does not go towards the welfare of the workers.

“This is one of the main reasons for the plantation workforce to trim down from 450,000 to 150,000 and more are leaving the sector.”

RPCs must look after their employees and provide them better quality of living standards or more would leave for other jobs. He also said that similarly more focus should be there from the gem industry towards the welfare of the gem miners who too are in a similar plight.

The Minister said that though Sri Lankan annual gem exports are still in the USD 500 million income generating segment, countries like Hong Kong which doesn’t have a single gemstone earns USD 37 billion and Thailand 12 billion US dollars.

“Out of this Sri Lankan gem exports over 60% income has come from diamond reexports and not through Selling Sri Lanka gem exports.”

He said the government is studying and the same steps should be taken to have more flexible laws towards gem imports (for value addition) and exports. He also appealed to gem exporters to bring the revenue back to Sri Lanka via official channels. Chief Guest for the Congress, Founder Gem Research Swiss Lab, Dr. A. Peretti said that Sri Lanka has created several unique global Gem landmarks in major world markets and these should be capitalised to increase revenue.

He also said that the Beruwala Open Gem market is one of the first such ones in the world. He said that the success of Hong Kong in gem trade is its liberalized import export regulation which ensures free flow of gems in and out of the country.

Chairman National Gem and Jewellery Authority Viraj de Silva said that they are working towards reducing red tape in the industry. He also said that they could consider a separate export division for the Beruwala gem trade, provided the traders can guarantee a monthly export figure.

Monday, December 12, 2022 – 01:00











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