Myanmar’s military regime is preparing to hold a gem fair in December in the capital Naypyitaw, according to gem traders. It will be the second time a gem emporium has been held since the junta’s February coup, following a previous sale in April.
Normally, the gem fair is staged in March and September and is a major revenue earner for the Myanmar government, which taxes sales at the event at up to 40 per cent. With the junta strapped for cash due to international sanctions, holding the gem sale is a way to generate much-needed revenue.
The April fair earned the regime over 33.5 billion kyats (US$18 million), according to junta-controlled media. The show was held April 1 to 10 and all 317 lots of pearls sold out, while 1.955 lots of jade out of 2,148 lots sold out and 52 lots of jewellery out of a total of 199 were sold.
One gem trader in Naypyitaw said that the next fair is slated for December 10 and that the military-owned Myanma Economic Holdings Limited and its affiliated gem companies will participate.
Around 650 lots of precious stones will be auctioned at the fair, which is set to be held at the Mani Yadana Jade Hall in Naypyitaw’s Zabuthiri Township, according to the trader.
The junta has arranged ten hotels for invited gem traders to stay in and security has been tightened near the Jade Hall, said sources in the capital.
In April, the United States Treasury Department imposed sanctions on state-owned gem enterprises in a bid to deprive the junta of its ability to raise money.
The civilian National Unity Government has also urged Myanmar’s gem and jewellery businesses not to take part in any commercial activities conducted by the ‘terrorist’ military regime.
It warned that anyone who fails to abide by that will be blacklisted and legal measures will be taken against them in accordance with existing laws.
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