The government has made arrangements to streamline the clearance of gem parcels hand carried by the importers at the airport through a simplified procedure, the Finance and Planning Ministry announced.
According to the new procedure, the importer should make arrangements to process a Customs Declaration at the Airport and a service charge will be levied by the Customs.
The details on this arrangement will be published in due course by the Customs, the Ministry said.
The simplified procedures to boost gem and jewellery import and export activities have been decided at a meeting participated by the Chairman Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association (SLGJA) Deshabandu M.Macky Hashim, Director General of Customs Dr. Neville Goonawardena and Chairman & CEO of National Gem and Jewellery Authority Prasad Galhena on May 31.
During the meeting the authorities have agreed to have a specially designated Customs office to process gem and jewellery import consignments at the arrival area of the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake.
A speedy process will be implemented to hand over the gem and jewellery import parcels after Customs formalities placed in a secured pouch to the importer, to bring them within three working days to Customs Unit at the National Gem and Jewellery Authority office in Colombo for inspection and release.
The Gem and Jewellery Authority says the country's gem and jewellery industry will receive a shot in the arm by these decisions, which would substantially slash the time taken to clear import parcels resulting advantages to industry stake holders who operate on time constraints.
The major outcome of these decisions will be to increase the global competitiveness of the gem and jewellery industry with a resultant increase in foreign exchange earnings and the generation of new job opportunities, the Authority says.
Sri Lanka has earned US$ 183.05 million from the Gem, Diamond & Jewellery Exports during the first four months of 2012.
The Gem and Jewellery industry takes a foremost place in bringing foreign revenue to Sri Lanka. The country is among the biggest sources of gems and precious stones and is ranked among the top gem-bearing nations in the world. Over 40 of around 60 varieties on the market are found here, many from the Ratnapura region.
Blue sapphire, Star sapphire, Ruby and Cat's Eye are among the Sri Lankan gemstones which are in high demand.