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The GRTU's second section meeting was for the Jewellers section on the 3rd of April 2009.
GRTU would like to thank those who attended for giving their time to keep this section alive and making their contributions. We hope to have the opportunity to touch base and work with those who did not manage to make it.
Below are the minutes of the meeting.
All present were presented with a paper that was written to Mr Alfred Camilleri, Permanent Secretary within the Ministry for Finance, the Economy and Investment. This paper was drafted by GRTU Jewellers representatives because the members in the Jewellers section were being negatively hit by bureaucratic procedures and certain practices of the Consul.
Following the paper submission GRTU held a meeting with Mr Alfred Camilleri and following this several of the problems experienced were toned down. GRTU however still decided to represent the paper to the section for discussion and update. This was done with the aim that a follow-up paper would be represented to the Ministry for Finance the Economy and Investment and if GRTU's suggestions are taken up we want them in writing. With this a conclusion to several of the issues whether positive or negative would be reached and the members would know where they stand.
The Section discussed in detail the paper which has now been represented to the Ministry in the form of a Memo. The memo being placed below for Members to view and comment if required.
GRTU will be meeting the Ministry to discuss the issue. Following this, a meeting report will be published in the GRTU newSTRING.
Memo content below:
As already agreed to in a meeting with the Consul and Mr Imbroll in May 2004 labels having 18ct Gold, 9ct Gold and Sterling Silver should be allowed as 18ct can only mean 18 out of 24 = 750. Unfortunately this practice was not followed by the Consul as is shown in the relevant court cases.
An example of such is the case the consul's office (witness for office was David) had against Sterling Jewellers where the court decided that 18ct Gold has more meaning to consumers than Gold 750.
In order to avoid further such situations GRTU would like to have the agreement reached in May 2004 in writing. Should the Consul refuse to make this in writing GRTU requests an urgent meeting with the Consul and your kind self.
GRTU agrees that all items placed on the market must bear a manufacturers or sponsor mark and finesse mark unless exempted by current legislation.
When the item has no mark on it (and when it is locally produced) then the manufacturer or sponsor must stamp his identification mark and the finesse mark in the surrounds as specified today.
When the product already has a finesse mark and no manufacturer mark then the product must be stamped with a sponsor mark without the need to restamp a second finesse mark.
When the item is imported and already has a manufacturer mark and finesse mark made by any foreign manufacturer then these marks are enough and there is no need to restamp the "local" sponsor mark and finesse mark. This will protect the local importer from having to check if the factory mark is from an EU manufacturer or a non EU manufacturer and do the sponsor mark accordingly. Also this regulation is often impossible to apply as there is simply no space for the extra markings. One must keep in mind that we are dealing with highly valuable and delicate items.
Currently, if an importer buys from a European wholesaler a product that has both a manufacturers mark and finesse mark, but the manufacturer was not an EU manufacturer and offers it for sale in Malta without a sponsor mark and new finesse mark in the local surrounds, he is criminally responsible, has the product confiscated and is taken to court.
GRTU does not believe that consumer protection is a reason for the requirement of all the extra marks and bureaucracy since consumer protection is guaranteed as the shop selling the product is today held responsible for the quality o the product and not the manufacturer or sponsor.
GRTU would like to see these requests accepted in writing. If these requests require further discussions GRTU is available to explain its and that of its member's point of view.
3. Hallmarking Fee.
The Hallmarking fee was set by the Consul at 1% of gold content value and 5% of silver content value when the price of gold was about Euro 9,000/kg in 2004. Today the price of gold is around Euro19,000/kg and so the fee has more than doubled. We are therefore requesting that the fee be fixed as 1% of gold content at Euro 10,000/kg so 9ct Euro37.50/kg, 18ct Euro75.00/kg.
GRTU would like to have this proposal accepted and placed in writing. GRTU is flexible on the alternatives to the current system so we are ready to discuss other alternatives. GRTU however feels the current fee is exorbitant and needs immediate revision.
4. Annual Fee.
Currently sponsors or manufacturers who stamp the finesse mark pay an annual fee of LM100 per annum. This is excessive when today we pay LM30 per annum trade license for a retail outlet in Republic Street. We are asking for the removal of this annual fee (nb 29 people pay it) and have just a LM100 Registration fee for registering the hallmark.
GRTU would like to have this proposal accepted and placed in writing.
5. Destructive Testing.
The Office of the Consul MUST INVEST in new technology such as X-Ray Analysers (XRF) so that the Consul can carry out non destructive testing and not destroy the article without compensation just to test the finesse of that unique item. When 100 items are produced it makes sense to choose one at random and do assay by cupellation (destructive) but when a unique item is on display it makes no sense to destroy the item to check that it is of the required finesse when non destructive tests are possible and accurate enough.
The Consul will still retain the right to do destructive testing, and then take legal action if the item fails the first non destructive test.
Should the consul not invest in non-destructive testing GRTU believes a sensible solution must be found
6. Publication of database.
Internationally lists of identification marks are published so that retailers can check the marks of items they purchases for retail to ensure that they are registered and valid. The Consul holds that this cannot be done in Malta due to Data Protection.
GRTU feels that the protection of the consumer and retailer is more important and therefore a register of ALL identification marks registered in Malta should be published.
7. "FAIR" Implementation.
The office of the Consul, as Regulator in Malta, should issue summary guideline of the basic legal requirements for the sale of jewellery. These for example include items exempt from hallmarking, labeling of items, hallmarks etc and inform all retailers registered and also other retailers not registered as jewellers that still sell gold and silver items e.g. souvenir shops, bridal dress shops, pharmacies and street hawkers. GRTU will give its full support to the consul and help in circulating the information. GRTU too often finds retailers that are totally unaware of this information and we believe it should be the prime aim of the Consul, as it is of the GRTU, to see the retailers know their legal obligations. This to provide better consumer protection as well as a fair implementation.
We urge the consul to continue with the market surveillance and officially warn shops found in breach of the regulations to remove all items from sale and regularize themselves within a given time period. We strongly believe that surveillance should be carried out less aggressively without the need for CID and taking them to court on the first default. This system worked perfectly in the Euro Change Over in 10,000 shops; we see no reason why it should not work in 200 shops. After this first warning the Consul can then proceed with taking the person to court if he persists in breaking the law.
8. Price Control
Presently if an item placed on the shelves for sale has its price not or not completely visible the retailer can be taken to court. While appreciating the importance of the consumer being able to see the prices without having to ask for it, we believe that in the Gold and Silver market this is not always possible.
Retailers ensure that wherever this is possible they make their utmost to display the prices next the product however there are instances that the price tag is three times bigger than the item or it is brand policy to show the brand next to the product and not the price.
GRTU would like to discuss the matter and find a sensible solution for these cases.
9. Working practices
We recommend that working practices are established for the grey areas in the sector e.g. Hallmarking of diamond jewellery where the gold content is rather insignificant in proportion to total value, Gold watches, Luxury high end jewellery where the "local" hallmark would diminish the international value of the product. Fore example some brands do not hallmark their items in the traditional way but by laser inscription of brand name, finesse and serial number.
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