Friday, July 20, 2012

Kachin State gov’t works on gem law

Friday, 20 July 2012 13:53 Mizzima News    

Upon the approval of a first draft of a state-level bill covering gem production and trade in Kachin State, officials with the Myitkyina Gem Trade Association (MGTA) said they were happy with the results.

"We have had a lot of success because we were able to meet in person to discuss and debate it,” said an official. “The first draft is perfect because we all worked hard together.”

Burma's annual gem emporium is held in Naypyitaw, the capital. Photo: Mizzima

He said the chairman of the Kachin State Parliament, Dr. Daw Yi Yi Win; a professor of law from Myitkyina University; legal department representatives; officials with the state-level mining ministry and MGTA representatives met in June and July to work out the details of the bill.

The draft stipulates all gem work in Kachin State must be recorded in detail, that all gem work is subject to taxes, and any work not reported is against the law and individuals may be prosecuted for violations.

The new draft, which is based on the gem chapter in the 2008 Constitution, was designed to be flexible, said officials.

The draft will first be submitted to the state-level government, and then be sent to the Union government for approval before it can become law.

In March, Mizzima reported that a bill that allowed local processing, cutting and polishing of jade had been passed by the Kachin State Assembly. When enacted, lawmakers said many new jobs would be created in the state.

In the 2008 Constitution, states were given powers to pass legislation in defined areas of energy, electricity, mining and forestry.

Before the new law, when jade stones were mined in Kachin State they had to be sent to Naypyitaw for cutting and polishing work, which increased the final cost of the products.

The bill's passage benefited both jade merchants and local people in Kachin State, said La Awng, vice chairman of the Jade and Gemstones Merchants Association in Myitkyina.

“The livelihood of local people will be better. The jade market will provide opportunities for more local people,” he told Mizzima.

Late last year, Mizzima reported that because of greater demand from China and higher prices, the amber market in Kachin State had risen sharply. However, despite higher prices, it’s still cheaper than jade.

Kachin State produces many gems including jade, quartz and amber.

“Most of the buyers are Chinese,” an amber trader in Myitkyina told Mizzima. However, other buyers come from Thailand and Tibet.

Tanai is the main amber production area in Kachin State. Amber is used in both jewelry and sculptures. Many people wear amber in the form of an amulet.  Colours are transparent orange, transparent yellow, dark red, clear and golden. Golden amber is the most expensive.

Many Chinese believe that amber amulets can help to improve blood circulation and protect against misfortune, according to a Chinese woman who spoke with Mizzima.

Most of the amber miners in Kachin State are Lisu. Besides Tanai and Sumprabum in Kachin State, Hkamti Township in Sagaing Region and some townships in Shan State also produced amber.

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