Friday, January 10, 2014

Government likely to lift curb on gold imports
Photo: DNA India
New Delhi, Jan 8, 2014: Planning Commission member Saumitra Chaudhuri has pitched for relaxation in curbs on gold imports citing improved current account deficit (CAD) and joining the growing clamour for easing restrictions on the yellow metal. "Government had imposed curbs on gold imports in May as a temporary measure.

Since it has helped considerably in cutting down trade deficit, I think there will be an end to this either towards the end of this quarter or early next fiscal," Chaudhuri said on the sidelines of a CII event.

Earlier in the day, economic affairs secretary Arvind Mayaram told PTI that the government should not tamper with the existing regime at least for this fiscal, notwithstanding an improvement in the CAD situation.

Recently, finance minister P Chidambaram too said that some curbs on gold imports should remain in force. However, Reserve Bank governor Raghuram Rajan favours doing away with the restrictions, which encourage smuggling, sharing the view of the commerce ministry.

Gold imports fell to 19.3 tonnes in November from a high of 162 tonnes in May in the wake of a series of curbs by both the government and the RBI. These included raising Customs duty on standard gold to 10 per cent from 2 per cent to restrict imports that bloated the current account deficit to an all-time high of 4.8 per cent of gross domestic product, or $88 billion in 2012-13.

Besides, the RBI had in July introduced an 80:20 scheme - 20 per cent of the bullion imported had to be exported back. Imports were also not allowed if importers were unable to meet the 20 per cent norm. The government also banned trading of gold in special economic zones.

The measures had the desired impact of slowing down gold and silver imports to $25.5 billion in the first eight months of the fiscal, from $33.5 billion in the year earlier. As per the RBI, the CAD is likely to be in the range of $56 billion against the lifetime high of $88.2 billion in the previous year.

Courtesy: The Economic Times