Provisions to benefit Kachin people sought for inclusion in gems bill

Chan Wai Soe
Jade mining blocks in the Hpakant region of Kachin State

Provisions that will benefit all Kachin people must be inserted into the gems bill, says Dr M. Kon La, chairperson of the Kachin National Congress Party.

The joint bill committee of the union’s parliament is to meet with Kachin people to discuss the gems bill. Kachin political parties have been invited to the meeting, as have representatives from the main gems association, businesspersons and Kachin political parties.

Dr M Kon La said: “Regarding the gems bill, only the central government has administrative control over the legislation. The bill includes 14 chapters. Eight of the chapters are important, but six of them aren’t. All of the main eight chapters express only the authority of the ministry.

“The interests of the Kachin ethnic minority have not been represented in the chapters. Power goes to the director-general and the minister. The facts are up to the ministry. We will have to have discussions about this.  In the past, gem production and distribution were linked  to corruption. We will have to address these points.”

Regarding the gems bill, Kachin political parties, comprising the KSDP, KDP, KNC and LNUDP, have joined with lawyers and people skilled in the gems industry to submit amendments, suggestions and the demands of the Kachin community to the parliament. 

Currently, most of the gem blocks belong to foreigners, especially Chinese. Many Chinese companies hold national registration cards. All gems produced from the blocks go to  neighbouring countries.

Aung Kham Hti, chairman of the KDP, said the parliament had not fully considered the circumstances of the ethnic Kachin. They have not enjoyed any of the profits from gem production so far, the party chief said.