THE policy change to auction gemstones locally is meant to benefit Zambians, says Mines Deputy Minister Richaird Musukwa.
Addressing a meeting of investors in London yesterday, Musukwa said it was wrong to suggest that the decision to compel Kagem Mine (Zambia’s leading emerald miner) to include Zambia on the Auction Circuit, was meant to stifle the company operations.
“To the contrary, the Zambian government (which owns a 25 percent stake in Kagem), wanted to bring about equity in the distribution of benefits from the precious stones sector.The sale of Zambian emeralds is aimed at ensuring that proceeds of the precious stones benefits local people,” Musukwa said in a statement issued by Press Secretary Amos Chanda. “We are making Kagem more viable, we are growing the local gems market and increase Zambian participation in the auctions. Zambians must rise to this challenge.”
He said government also wanted to re-establish the Lapidaries and promote cutting and polishing of the gems locally.
“Obviously this may not sound good to those wishing to maintain the status quo (of auctioning Zambian emeralds gems abroad only). Our aim is to see value-addition on the Zambian gems. I urge international partners to support the Lusaka auctions in the same way they support Kagem’s international auctions,” he said.
It is expected that the inclusion of Zambia on the Gemstone Auction Circuit would result in massive investments into host communities.
The changes would also help government stop secondary and illegal dealers who are undermining both the industry and the government in terms of tax losses due to evasion.