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The National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA) has issued a directive which prevents foreign gem firms and investors from mining on Sri Lankan soil.

Speaking at the sidelines of the 16th Congress of the International Colored Gem Stone Association, Deputy Director General of the NGJA ,K L D Dayasagara said that the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau only issues exploration licenses for minerals other than gemstones.

“If the individuals or firms are found violating the rule, this would be considered a criminal offense and they could be tried in courts,” he said. “If we feel that they are violating the rule, we would promptly place one of our officers at the site to ensure that they do not breech the rules.”

He added that the NGJA is the sole authority which has powers vested by Act No. 50 of 1993 to regulate, promote and protect the local industry thereby to issue and revoke licenses.

Chairman of the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA) Clement Sabbagh also lauded efforts taken by the new government to bring about changes in the gem and jewelry industry.

“Sri Lanka has managed to regulate its gem and Jewelry industry and can be seen as an example for its mining legislation efficiently protective of the environment and small miners alike.” he opined.

A mandate was taken to bar foreigners and foreign firms and companies backed by foreign investors from gem mining in Sri Lanka.

The Government instructed authorities to prohibit any foreigner or foreign company to engage in gem mining in Sri Lanka. Officials have been instructed to reject such requests, adding that the government is not ready to let the gem industry fall into the hands of foreign companies.