Friday, March 21, 2014

Reduce gold import duty to curb smuggling: Assocham
[Editor: The Economic Times on 21st March, 2014 reported that Livelihood of over 75 lakh jeweler families in West Bengal (WB) is threatened due to heavy custom duty on gold imports resulting in a minimum 7-10 days delay in procurement of the yellow metal, according to Assocham's Eastern Region Gems and Jewellery Council chairperson, Mr Shankar Sen. The government of India therefore, should stop its vindictive attitude towards a particular sector, especially when the Indian CAD has come down substantially] 
Ahmedabad, March 21: Apex industry body Assocham on Friday urged the Finance Ministry to reduce duty on imported gold to five per cent to check unprecedented surge in gold smuggling from the porous borders of Nepal and Bangladesh that have emerged as transit points for smuggling the yellow metal into India.

Emphasizing the need to cut import duty from the existing 10 per cent, Assocham Secretary-General D S Rawat said that a heavy duty on gold imports results in a delay of 7-10 days in procurement of the yellow metal through legal channels which is leading to huge losses for the domestic gems and jewellery industry.

“Gold smuggling is increasingly becoming lucrative,” he added.

Gold import duty in both Nepal and Bangladesh is nearly zero and the authorities in both Kathmandu and Dhaka are not that watchful to clamp down on such malpractices. Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have witnessed significant surge in gold imports since Indian government imposed restrictions on its imports, while China has surpassed India thereby becoming world’s largest gold importer, he said.

Rawat also urged the Government to ease the 80:20 rule which requires at least a fifth of imported gold to be exported or reinstating the gold-on-lease model which allowed credit purchases of imported gold. Also, smugglers should be strictly punished

While India’s gold imports have come down by a whopping 95 per cent since August 2013 when import duties were raised, the imports through illegal channels have almost doubled to about 200 tonne. Last year, gold worth about $9 billion was imported into India through the black market.

Gujarat is India’s leading state in terms of domestic gems and jewellery sector as it contributes about 72 per cent of the country’s total exports in this sector.

Courtesy: The Hindu Business Line