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Move to regulate pearl sales, prices

PAPEÉTE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, August 27, 2009) - The French Polynesia Council of Ministers has given a green light for building the first Tahitian cultured pearl clearinghouse, which is due to start work in September 2010 and be completed in February 2012.

Sea Resources Minister Teva Rohfritsch presented the pearl clearinghouse dossier to the council Wednesday as part of his pearl industry reform program. This followed two recent press communiqués, one dealing with the importing of false pearls, the other dealing with halting the door-to-door selling of Tahitian pearls in government ministerial offices.

"At a time when greater discipline is required from industry professionals, the government must lead by example by putting an end to such (door-to-door) practices already prohibited," the communiqué stated.

Rohfritsch’s pearl clearinghouse dossier includes a project for creating an organization to monitor, sort, classify and label the lots of pearls submitted by producers. The organization also would estimate the lots’ value, according to a government media communiqué.

The clearinghouse also would play a role in regulating the production, promotion and marketing of Tahitian cultured pearls as well as the distribution of information to professionals, the communiqué stated.

The cost of those clearinghouse operations would be financed by a 50 French Pacific franc (US$0.62/42 euro cents) tax per exported pearl.

The 2,700 sq. meter (29,063 sq. ft.) facility will be built in downtown Papeéte on the corner of Avenue Pouvanaa a Oopa and the waterfront’s Blvd. Pomare at an estimated cost of 894 million French Pacific francs (US$11m/€7m). The site chosen is the location of the former popular Tahitian bar and nightclub Le Pitate, which has been closed, boarded up and abandoned for many years.

The government sees the project as the beginning of a rehabilitation of this area, optimizing the cost of buying land and in keeping with the island’s land management, according to the communiqué.

The French Polynesia Sea Resources and Big Public Works Ministries recommended to the Council of Ministers their choice of prime contractor following architectural competition. Their choice was made from five candidates and after voting by secret ballot on June 4. The winning bid was submitted by the group Iihi/DVA/Atelier 3/Néonergie.Clymatys.

One of Rohfritsch’s recent communiqués also expressed hope that the public could be made aware that Tahitian cultured pearls sold door-by-door in private businesses or on public streets often offer no guarantee of quality. Such sales may cause consumer deception about the pearls offered at prices with no economic or commercial basis, the communiqué stated.

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