Monday, May 23, 2011

Namibian Govt Wants More 'Goodwill' From Diamond Manufacturers

Namibian Govt has told the local diamond industry to pull up its socks and increase manufacturing in Namibia, as well as to look better after its employees.

"We expect more goodwill from the manufacturing sector," Mines and Energy permanent secretary, Joseph Iita, delivered the message of his minister, Isak Katali, at the gala dinner of Diamond Manufacturer Association of Namibia (Diaman) on Thursday night.

"We expect factories to cut and polish at least 90 per cent, if not all, of all their rough stones here in Namibia and do less preparation abroad," he said.

Katali said Government realised the industry is still in its infancy and needs a lot of nurturing and support. That is the rationale behind the Ministry not granting any new cutting licences, as it wants to protect the sector against "stiff competition from other established centres around the world where labour is cheap and skills are well developed".

"We believe that we can expand jobs and transfer real skills by taking care of the factories that are now on the ground instead of splitting the cake into many small pieces that in the end would result in many failed businesses and turn our dream of establishing a vibrant centre into a white elephant," he said.

The minister said Government expects the sector "to take better care of your most important asset - the employees".

"We are aware that it is cheaper to manufacture in India and China and elsewhere but we would like to see most of you pay better attention to the plight of your employees - especially with regards to meeting their safety, health, insurance, transport and housing needs," he said.

"We expect you to transfer real and meaningful skills - including the planning and preparation of diamonds - to Namibians.

"We expect you not to poach employees from other factories but to do your part to ensure that you contribute towards developing a critical mass of skills and transferring state-of-the-art technology to Namibia," he said.

Katali also called on the industry to manufacture some of its jewellery locally, to create Namibian brands and to support the already existing jewellers in Namibia.

"Last but not least we expect you to forge true partnerships with Namibians, to be honest and transparent with them and to allow them room to learn the ropes of the marketing and sale of diamonds, both rough and polished, and to share fairly and proportionally in the proceeds from the sale of those diamonds, whilst also re-investing in factories to enhance their competitive edge," Katali said.

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