Illegal raw gem export cost Nigeria $3 billion annually, Investors say

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Private investors in gemstone in the country have revealed that about $3b is lost annually from illegal raw gemstone export.

Co-promoter, African Gems and Jewelry Exhibition and Seminar (AGJES), Jummai Oluyede, said that most of the gemstones exported out of the country are not declared, making it impossible for the country to benefit.

Speaking yesterday in Abuja at a pre-event press briefing for AGJES titled ‘Mines to market, collaborating to improve industry leakages,’ Oluyede said that Nigerian women spend a lot of money on jewelleries they purchase outside the country while the country loses out.

She said: “What we are saying is that about $3b is leaving the country through illegal means, which means that it is not being declared. If for example you want to take gemstone out, you get an export licence from the ministry and you pay your royalties but that is not happening. Some are getting licences. But many are not. So a lot of money is leaving the country.

“Most people sell raw stones, not really cut and polished. What AGJES is trying to do is to encourage gemstone miners to being their raw stones and encourage the industry to cut, polish and make jewellery in order to promote the industry and encourage it to grow.”

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, Barrister Georgina Ehuriah, said that Nigeria is ready for mining business.

She said that guidelines for exports are being put in place so that people will not be able to easily export raw gemstones in the country.

She said: “Most of what has been existing in the industry is an informal form of exportation in the sense that it is not documented. It is carried out by artisanal miners. What we intend to do is to reverse that. This is $3b that could have been infused into our economy. We want the mining sector to be private sector driven, while we monitor and advise.”

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