Sagaing set to sparkle with gems market

Sagaing businesspeople aim to capitalise on the city’s informal gems and jade trade by opening a formal gems market as soon as this year.

The gems market will help eliminate illegal trade and bring revenue flows into the open, as well as operate as a business in its own right, according to U Aung Gyi, chair of the Sagaing Region Gems and Jewellery Entrepreneurs’ Association.

“Mandalay’s gems sales centre charges US$1 per foreigner to enter. And about 200 Chinese people do the business every day in Sagaing. So when we open the gems market, we will earn $200 a day,” he said.

By opening a market, Sagaing officials hope it will be easier to regulate trade and to take action against those selling fake gems, while it will also create local job opportunities. There are jade and gems markets in Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay and Myitkyina, which would make the Sagaing market the country’s fourth if it opens.

U Aung Gyi said there has been an unofficial gems market and sales in Sagaing city for seven years. Since it is unofficial, revenues are not generated for Sagaing Region, and taxes are not collected.

“The informal market has been running strongly for seven years,” he said.

The Sagaing Region Gems and Jewellery Entrepreneurs’ Association has presented its plans for a formal market to the region government. It has looked into three suitable land plots, with a potential site needing to be at least three acres to allow for about 450 gems shops.

The request must now be processed by township authorities and also the Sagaing Region government.

The plan calls for about 450 shops that are eight feet by eight feet, with additional facilities such as washrooms. U Aung Gyi said the Sagaing Region minister has said the government would help with finding an appropriate piece of land.

“A delegation including the Sagaing Region Minister of Mines and local officials came to consider the site on the ground level. They submitted their plan to the Sagaing Region cabinet after consideration,” he said.

The likely plot is also under control of the Ministry of Commerce, so it may need national approval. “I assume the ministry will urgently approve this, as they know the benefits of having a lawful tax levy in the Sagaing market. I hope it’s within a month,” he said.

Building the actual market will require a large up-front expenditure, which U Aung Gyi said he hopes will come from businessperson U Aung Ko Win, the patron of Myanmar Gems and Jewellery Entrepreneurs’ Association.

Once completed, the shops will be sold in installments. The market also hopes to have on-site authorities, removing the need to travel to Mandalay to, for instance, pay tax.

U Aung Gyi also urged the formal market to open in collaboration with town elders and city development committee members as quickly as possible, to assist the city’s development.

Source: Myanmar Times

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