The Finance Ministry has made arrangements to streamline the clearance of gem parcels hand carried by the importers at the airport through a simplified procedure, it said in a statement yesterday.
According to the new procedure, the importer should make arrangements to process a Customs Declaration at the airport and a service charge will levied by the Customs.
The details will be published in due course by the Customs, it added. The latest step is in line with Finance Ministry plans to simplify gem imports to make the industry more globally competitive and thus boost revenue.
Earlier the Ministry said that exporters and importers of gem and jewellery who have had to put up with delays in clearing imports will now have a specially designed Customs office to process all gem and jewellery import consignments at the arrival area of the Bandaranaike International Airport.
Furthermore, a speedy process of handing over the gem and jewellery import parcels after Customs formalities will also be implemented.
Both clearances procedures will be allocated to those dealers who obtain foreign exchange as per the 2012 Budget proposal to procure gems from other producing countries.
The major outcome of these decisions will be to increase the global competitiveness of this burgeoning sector with a resultant increase in foreign exchange earnings and the generation of new job opportunities.
In 2011 Sri Lanka gem and jewellery industry earned US$ 520 million, which is a28.85 per cent increase from 2010. In the first quarter of 2012 the value was US$ 183.05 million.
Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association (SLGJA) Chairman M. Macky Hashim commended Director General of Customs Dr. Neville Goonawardena and National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA) Chairman and CEO Prasad Galhena for having these proactive decisions taken to facilitate a growing number of gem and jewellery importers and exporters.
These pertinent decisions were taken at a meeting at the beginning of this month.