Media reports from Rangoon say Burma is auctioning off more of its jade and gems this week -- a sale seen as an important moneymaker for the military junta that rules the country.
Burma formerly sold gems and jade once or twice a year, but such auctions have been taking place with increasing frequency -- a development that some observers see as evidence of the government's financial difficulties.
The New Light of Myanmar newspaper reports more than 13,00 auction lots are on display this week at the Myanmar Convention Center in Rangoon, and that hundreds of foreign merchants are among nearly 900 potential buyers.
The Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings, which is conducting the sale, is showing 312 lots of gems and one thousand-29 lots of jade.
Thursday's auction is about half the size of a sale in July that was Burma's largest ever sale of gems and jade. The junta does not disclose how much revenue it earns, but each auction is believed to bring in tens of millions of dollars in foreign currency.
Although Burma is one of Asia's poorest countries, it has vast natural resources, including gems, minerals and teak wood. The next auction sale is expected in October.
The United States has slapped tough economic sanctions on Burma's military leadership, accusing it of human-rights abuses and lack of democratic reforms.
Information for this report is provided by AFP.