Related state-owned gem industry institutes to merge under SOE reforms
The Sri Lanka government is to expeditiously explore the export potential of gems and jewelry by consolidating the Gem and Jewellery Research and Training Institute and National Gem and Jewellery Authority which are not performing up to expectations at present, Finance Ministry sources confirmed.
The aim is to provide services with better quality and efficiency to the gem-related craftsmen to increase export revenue, State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe told the Business Times.
He added that certain institutions that were duplicating the same tasks would be consolidated. And for certain other institutions, the government was anticipating investments from the private sector, to ensure that the institutions would function with no state funding.
The government will also be setting up of a Gem Emporium (Gem Zone) for the benefit of the industry participants.
All these measures will be taken immediately turning around the state owned gem and jewelry institutions and transform the industry into US$1 billion export earner by the end of this year.
Sri Lanka has earned $450.6 million from gem and jewellery exports in 2022 compared to $276.8 million in 2021 and latest Central Bank data shows that the industry has increased export revenue to $54.1 million in January 2023 from $31.9 million in the same month of 2022.
The merger of the two gem agencies will be one of the major steps under the government’s immediate plan to restructure loss-making state owned enterprises (SOEs), he disclosed.
It has come to a point where these institutions are not assets to Sri Lanka and have become a burden and a liability to the Sri Lankan economy, State Minister Semasinghe said.
Gem and Jewellery Research and Training Institute (GJRTI) was established in July 1995, under Section 25 (1) of the National Gem and Jewellery Authority Act.
GJRTI is engaged in the business of providing research and training services for the promotion and sustainable development of the gem and jewellery industry.
A Review Panel observed that the GJRTI has failed to perform as a fully-fledged institution due to certain regulatory constraints, and this severely impedes its efficiency.
Hence, it is recommended to reconstitute the institute as a semi-autonomous body through a Parliamentary Act and merge with the National Gem and Jewellery Authority as soon as possible.
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