01 April 2012

Gold imports halve on high prices, lower demand, strike - Business line

Suresh P. Iyengar
Mumbai, March 31:

Imports shrink to 95 tonnes in Jan-March

High prices and slowing demand have halved gold imports into the country.

Imports of the yellow metal shrank to 95 tonnes in the January-March 2012 period against 283 tonnes in the same period last year, according to preliminary industry data.

The ongoing strike against the Budget proposal to levy excise duty and unbranded jewellery and hike import on gold has depressed imports to 20-25 tonnes in March.

The country imported 30 tonnes of gold in February and 40 tonnes in January.

Mr Prithivraj Kothari, President, Bombay Bullion Association, said the jewellery trade is already burdened by huge inventory due to the ongoing strike by jewellers.

The strike has been going on since March 17.

“Gold imports in the March quarter have more than halved compared with 283 tonnes in the same period last year. Overall, imports in 2012 will be close to 450 tonnes,” he said.

India imported 969 tonnes of gold last year, according to the World Gold Council.

BRANDED JEWELLERS SUPPORT

Mr Mehul Choksi, Chairman and Managing Director, Gitanjali Gems, said “The industry has already lost Rs 15,000-20,000 crore due to the strike. It needs the Government's immediate attention,” he said.

On the proposed increase in the Customs duty, Mr Choksi said the Government itself will be a big loser as a lot of gold will now start coming in through unofficial channels.

Mr Puran Doshi, Committee Member, Mumbai Wholesale Gold Jewellers Association, said, “We are not averse to paying duties. They can even increase the Customs duty from the proposed four per cent to five per cent, but we do not want the Government to thrust Excise Department on us,” he added.

EXPORTS HIT

Lending its support to the strike, the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council stopped work in Mumbai and Surat on Friday and Saturday.

Mr Rajiv Jain, Chairman, GJEPC, said it is unfortunate that the industry had to down shutters when the global markets are just recovering after the slowdown.

suresh@thehindu.co.in

Losing ground Gold imports were around 20-25 tonnes in March, compared with 30 tonnes in February and 40 tonnes in January Imports in 2012 will be close to 450 tonnes compared with 969 tonnes last year Industry has lost Rs 15,000-20,000 crore due to the ongoing strike

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 1, 2012)

source: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/todays-paper/article3267119.ece
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