“Pakistan’s gemstone industry in doldrums,” has yet to mark its triumph through becoming a remedy of the current economic soft patch and paving the path for indigenous sustainable growth in the foreseeable future. Holding the fifth-largest gemstone reserves of the world, the country offers diversified precious and semi-precious potential reservoirs in different areas. For instance, the most important are Emerald from the Swat Valley, followed by Ruby and Spinel from the Hunza Valley holds worldwide recognition due to its exceptional quality. Similarly, notable are pink Topaz from Katlang near Mardan city, and Aquamarine from Dassu near the Slzardu area. Apart from this, Sapphire, Jade, Quartz, Lapis Lazuli, and some ornamental stones have also been found in various regions of the country.
Statistically, Pakistan’s annual gemstone exports are approximately $3.7 billion. It is a dismaying fact that 80% of revenue is generated by this [industry] through exporting raw materials. Whereas, the annual export capacity of only three gemstones comprised 800,000 carats of Ruby, 87000 carats of Emerald, and five billion of Peridot. In retrospect, a total annual production reported in the late 1970s was over $1 million. Whereas in the year 1948 only five resource minerals were known to exist in any quantity, today at least 16 minerals, including gem materials. As a result, over the years the industry presents the descending trajectory of progress path with looming threats of even complete collapse as it could not even find a place in the top 10 gem exporter’s countries of the Asian Continent. It can be argued that despite its immense potential of strengthening contours of national economic architecture why this industry is plugged with the enduring crisis. Introspection suggests that there are numerous fundamental imperatives and policy impediments that are thwarting the gemstone industrial flourishment emblems. At the government level, it lacks a “centralized mechanism” for the entire process of mining and trading. Different ministries are associated with reference to the mining, processing, and trade of gemstones. Currently, apart from provincial governments, the Ministry of Trade and Commerce, Ministry of Industries and Production, Pakistan’s Mineral development Cooperation (PMDC), Pakistan Gems and Jewelry Development Company (PGJDC), and private companies are major stakeholders, which draws ambiguous configurations due to divergent interests, non-coherent policies and discoordination fallouts lead to the breakdown of plausible gemstone economy. The effective exploration of gemstone reservoirs faces setbacks with institutional framework inadequacies. Pakistan’s gemstone industry is driven by dozens of small-scale mines and artisanal. The major impediment includes poor capital investment, insignificant technical expertise, lack of modern technological equipment, and experienced labor entire mechanism in disarrays. There is limited technical, economic, and legal assistance by the designated authorities regarding the mining, processing, and trading mechanisms to the affiliated companies and contractors. With reference to international exports of gemstones, the industry clearly remains below par while having accessibility to the compatible international market. Domestically, heavy taxes are imposed on the exports while it also faces plentiful issues regarding custom clearance. Deficient revenue collection and value addition aspects ensure major obstruction, for example, gemstone trade earns low revenue as compared to other global competing actors due to non-coherent trading mechanisms. Most often the government and stakeholders fail to strike a fair deal in accordance with the quality of exported gems. Consequently, it ends up with low revenue generation value. Despite having an abundance of raw reservoirs, the wanting processing set up leads to low-value addition of the exports. Currently, unsatisfactory laws and regulations for gemstone mining, processing, and trade result in weak oversight of the entire industry. Gemstone companies and contractors tend to operate outer the realm of the private sector leading to illicit trade and illegal activities, raising grave apprehensions.The gemstone extraction and mining procedure predominately rely on conventional methods of blasting and drilling. The risk-stricken method often results in catastrophic incidents and hazardous health issues for the engaged manpower. Likewise, it also rescinds the gemstone quality. Social normative, cultural, and geographic constraints are the core imperatives of stalling growth. Revenue generation value can be increased by replacing conventional mining, cutting, and processing techniques with advanced technological machinery and gadgets, which will assist to boost the final product production, and eventually, the raw gemstone trade may decrease. Concerned quarters should ensure the identification of comparative advantage to broaden the horizons of exporting capacity, aligned with comparative trends of the international gemstone market. The federal government can play a key role in fostering liberalized trading policies and encouraging gemstone exports. Notably, engagement with noble International gemstone industry forums will help to pursue the desired targets. The government needs to invest in skill development programs and technology transfer of the gemstone industry. In this regard, the foundation of international standard laboratories, technical training centers at the provincial level would ultimately create skilled Labor for the gemstone industry. The gemstone industry potentially demands structural taxation reforms. In this regard, the federal government can offer competitive fiscal terms. Introducing Tax breaks will allow margin maximization and it also benefits to seek access to the international market. The provincial government should initiate the establishment of special economic zones, creating tax incentives for gemstones, or waiving other taxes and duties that will increase the revenue generation of the gemstone industry. To subvert the economic constraint, the mechanism of extending credit to the gemstone industry can be introduced. The loan scheme facilities may help small- and medium-scale gemstone enterprises. Furthermore, the model of “gem banking” can be replicated to make productive investments and weather market downturns. Establishing a process of inter-agency coordination is essentially vital to uplift the prospect of the gemstone economy. Furbishing inclusive coordination between custom departments and subjective institutions associated with gemstone production and export such as federal and provincial government ministries may extend the efficiency of information sharing in the context of weaknesses and consolidate the collective state’s approach to pursue trade policies.To conclude, the gemstone industry hopes serious consideration for its sustainability and growth from the concerned authorities. Otherwise, it’s on the brink of a complete cripple. Thus a collective effort is required to boost this significant contour of national economic trajectory.