Mogok residents hope to reclaim ruby trade

Mogok residents want one thing from the incoming government: the right to take back their rubies. Gem traders living and working in the Mandalay Region township, famed for the quality of its rubies, say most local mines are run by outsiders.

Now they want the incoming National League for Democracy government to grant more operating licences to local companies.

Observers attribute the slowdown in the market to the shortage of high-quality gems available for sale.

Speaking to The Myanmar Times on November 19, Mogok gem trader Ko Kyaw Soe said, “Not much business is being done because of the shortage of gemstones here. Most of the mines are owned by companies that sell to the gems emporium, rather than in local markets, causing a shortage of raw gems locally. This has caused young people to go overseas for work, or to leave the ruby business altogether.”

Though the Ministry of Mining holds a gems emporium every year, it is difficult for Mogok residents to get there. They want sales centres and emporiums to be set up or held locally to provide more job opportunities, they say.

“Good stones have been scarce for ages. We want a complete change in policy, including the grant of permits to local people to develop the market in Mogok,” said U Kyaw Win, a gems trader at Yote Shin Yone gem market, Mogok.

Since 1990, only companies engaged in joint ventures with the government have been permitted to work ruby mines in Mogok. Though the current government relaxed that rule slightly, locals still face bureaucratic hurdles in acquiring licences, they say.

Applicants must produce a household list and letters of recommendation from the Department of Forestry and the township land records department.

Plots are only 1 acre in extent, the licence is valid for only three years and each applicant is limited to one plot only.

About 97 percent of the 2000 plots now being worked are run by joint ventures with the government, according to local residents.

Source: Myanmar Times

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