FG To Reform Gemstones Sub-sector For Massive Jobs
The federal government has attributed the easy prey of its precious stones by smugglers and money launderers both within and outside the country to its quality.
The government, through the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Alhaji Abubakar Bawa Bwari, revealed that the central point of the country’s gem policy was to ensure due process in gemstone mining and marketing activities in line with international best practices.
Bwari, while speaking at the second edition of the African Gems and Jewelry Exhibition and Seminar, with the theme: “Mines to Market: Collaborating to Improve Industry Linkages,” in Abuja, noted that the federal government also hope to help artisans get good prices for their gemstones while boosting the GDP by ensuring due repatriation of gemstone export proceeds through the CBN.
According to him, “As part of our mandate, the ministry is required to improve the sector’s capacity to create jobs and broaden the range of economic opportunities available to Nigerians.
“This is why we continue to support the initiatives of the organisers in using this event as a platform for creating a viable local market, and access to foreign markets for locally produced gems and jewellery.
“I must begin by commending the hard working team of organisers whose efforts have brought this event to fruition. Their resilience exemplifies the kind of patience required to operate in the mining sector which has such a long gestation period. “We have since began reforms in the sector with the hope of ensuring proper policing of the gemstone sector across the value chain from prospecting, to exploration, to mining, processing and marketing.”
The minister observed that, in the last three years, in the ministry, “we have managed to de-risk the sector by addressing issues of poor funding, lack of geological data, weak institutional capacity, limited supporting infrastructure, weak ease of doing business, and illegal mining and community challenges.
“As a result, we have seen an increase in mining activi- ties in the country with more companies operating standard mining sites.
“Although perception issues linger, there is no doubt that the future of Nigerian mining is bright indeed.”
Continuing, he added that, the country has one of the best mining regulations in the world, noting that “the quality of our minerals across the board is of the highest grade. It is just a matter of time before the rest of the world realises that Nigeria is now the place to go for mining.”
He said: “Last year when we first collaborated to host this event, we were amazed by their commitment, and the success of that maiden edition encouraged us to support them to host this one.
“Be informed that, according to our laws, the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development is not an operator but a regulator of the sector, “but we realise that we cannot achieve the objectives of this government in the Solid mineral sector without the collaboration of stakeholders like these.”