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Updated: February 7, 2014 16:32 IST

Not considering any proposal to cut gold import duty: Finance Ministry

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A file photo of Minister of State for Finance J.D. Seelam. Photo: T. Vijaya Kumar
The Hindu
A file photo of Minister of State for Finance J.D. Seelam. Photo: T. Vijaya Kumar

Finance Ministry on Friday said it is not considering any proposal to slash import duty on gold in view of country’s Current Account Deficit (CAD) position.

“At present, there is no proposal under consideration to reduce the import duty on gold, taking into account the likely impact on the Current Account Deficit,” Minister of State for Finance J.D. Seelam told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.

In 2013, the government hiked import duty thrice to 10 per cent on import of gold in wake of high CAD which in turn was impacting the value of the rupee. The Reserve Bank too imposed a series of curbs to restrict gold imports.

The CAD had touched a record high of $88.2 billion in 2012-13. However, following series of measures, by both the RBI and the government, CAD is likely to fall below $50 billion in the current financial year ending March 31.

Gold imports, which had peaked to 162 tonne in May, came down to 19.3 tonne in November after the government hiked import duty thrice in 2013, taking it to 10 per cent.

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had recently said the restrictions on gold imports will be reviewed by March end.

Government collected Rs. 7,590 crore revenue in form of import duty on gold during April-December 2013. In 2012-13 fiscal, the collection was Rs. 10,463 crore.

Authorities have admitted that curbs were leading to gold smuggling. There has been about 1-3 tonne of gold smuggled into the country every month following the restrictions imposed on shipment last year.

In value terms, gold and silver imports in April-December period declined 30.3 per cent to $27.3 billion from $39.2 billion during the same period a year earlier.

In the first half (April-September) of current fiscal, CAD narrowed to $26.9 billion (3.1 per cent), from $37.9 billion (4.5 per cent) in the first half of 2012-13.

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Its fine that the hiked duty on import of gold in the wake of high CAD
which in turn was impacting the value of the rupee will be remaining the
same. The very purpose of maintain high duty for imports will be
benefited to the nation only if we could curb smuggling of gold. It is
to be noted that every day we read on news reports on gold haul in
various airports which shows fingers towards the laxity in strictly
enforcing deterrent measures that discourage import of gold through
illegal channels.

from:  Madan Menon Thottasseri
Posted on: Feb 10, 2014 at 00:14 IST
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