By Derrick Silimina and Memory Chipili
THE Emerald and Semi-Precious Stones Mining Association of Zambia (ESMAZ) has insisted that Government should be flexible in taxes being imposed on the gemstone sector, which he said was detrimental to the industry.
Speaking when he officially opened Ashco Diamond Limited Office and Gem Testing Lab on Tuesday in Lusaka, ESMAZ president Victor Kalesha said the 15 percent export tax on gemstones has the potential to kill the industry.
“The 15 percent export tax is not very good for the sector because it’s chocking the industry and the sector at large. We will be glad if it’s scrapped for the benefit of the sector,” Mr Kalesha stated.
He said it was time the sleeping giant in the gemstone mining was awakened so that it could start contributing to the national treasury.
Mr Kalesha noted that despite Zambia being endowed with cast natural resources in gemstones, the mineral reserve has not been fully explored.
He said it was encouraging that Zambia was still being identified as a destination for gemstones sourcing and trading.
Mr Kalesha has urged Ashco to become a model of transparency in gemstone trading and that all members should always declare with the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development every gemstone they want to export.
“We are happy that you have come on board and, as a gemstone family, we will support you,” he added.
Mr Kalesha reiterated that Zambia has been producing gemstone for a long time but there is nothing to show that the gemstone sector contributes to the national treasury.
Ashco Diamonds Limited director-sales and operations Yogish Bantwal Shenoy said his company decided to establish its business in Zambia to enhance the expansion of precious and semi-precious industry and base metals.
“It is not that we are here to grab something from you but help contribute to the growth of the country. When we see that this country is growing because of us, it is not us but Zambians. We will give back what the country is expecting in form of taxes, revenues, establishments and even supporting entreprenuers,” Mr Shenoy said.
He noted that the company would seek to create jobs for the local people and impart entrepreneurial skills.
Mr Shenoy disclosed that Ashco Diamonds has invested US$10,000 in the testing lab of precious minerals.
Ashco Diamonds Limited under the management of Ashco Business Group has been in the gemstone industry for more than seven years.