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January gold purchases in India rises by 62%

Mar 01, 2016 08:36 AM EST

Gold imports in India increased 62% in January. The Indian government on Monday lifted the import duty value on silver and gold. The government is aiming to reduce the gold demand in the second largest consumer of gold worldwide.

In January, the country imported nearly 93.3 tons of gold and the foreign purchases of gold rose 25% during the ten-month period to January, Reuters said quoting NewsRise Financial. Meanwhile, gold imports in the nation's capital city is sliding towards a two-year period low in February amid the price hike that kept consumers away, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

In addition, the government of India has reinstated a domestic sales tax rate on gold jewellery after a period of four- year slit. The government officials believe that this move will hamper the growing demand for gold in the country. The governments in India have struggled hard to limit the hunger for gold by imposing heavy import duty and introducing various restrictions.

The annual gold imports of nearly 1000 tons accounted for nearly a quarter of trade scarcity in India. This hike in gold purchase urged the Indian government to introduce a new system to activate over 20K tonnes of gold that are kept idle at temples and homes.

The government increased the import duty on gold to $399 per 10 grams and silver to $495 a kg citing the hike in global gold market. Overall in the global market, gold increased 0.4% to $1,228.65 per ounce in Singapore trading market. In December 2015, gold imports in India increased to $3.8 billion owing mainly to the fall in global prices, THE TIMES OF INDIA said.

Arun Jaitley, finance minister of India, announced an excise tariff of 1% on diamond and gold jewellery. According to Indian jewellers, this new tariff will reduce the gold demand, which in turn will affect the growing gold price in global market. India Bullion and Jewellers Association's (IBJA) spokesman, Ketan Shroff, said that this duty will halt the gold business in India, which may result in 10 million gold craftsman losing their jobs.

Meanwhile, jewellers across the nation have decided to go on a strike as a protest against this new duty imposed by the finance ministry. The industry sources said that the nation's Gems & Jewellery Association is leading this strike. Mehul Choksi, IBJA's vice president, said, "More than 1 per cent of excise levy, the restoration of 'inspector raj' is the problem for jewellers. It the excise duty is levied, it will create lots of problems".

Earlier in 2012, the finance ministry under P Chidambaram imposed a similar tariff that was reversed following 21 days of undefined bandth. The IBJA has summoned the jewellery sector for a strike from March 1, 2016 to protest against the new duty, as reported by Business Standard.

Indian craving for this precious metal is growing amid many challenges facing the sector. The government is implementing various strategies to reduce gold purchases in the nation.

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