Staff Reporter

Government to aid setting up of assay centres

CHENNAI: General awareness among consumers about gold quality is "very good" in Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the Centre will take steps to spread this to other states, L. Mansingh, Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, said on Friday.

The Government will provide Rs. 15 lakh to start assay centres in cities where there are none. Around 35 cities, including Tiruchi and Madurai, do not have such centres. All these are aimed at hallmarking of gold jewellery, which will be mandatory from January 1, 2008, Mr. Mansingh said while addressing a meeting here.

With the Bureau of Indian Standards drastically reducing the yearly marking fee payable by a jeweller for promoting more hallmarking licences, the Bureau expects the number of licences to double in the next year. A survey of gold jewellery in the market across the country conducted in 2001 showed that about 90 per cent of the samples failed in purity, Mr. Mansingh said.

The Government then started campaigning for hallmarking and about 1,100 licences are operative.

The Reserve Bank of India and the Ministry of Finance have also initiated the directives for promoting the scheme.

He said these efforts would improve gold export and increase Government revenue. It is also planned to train artisans to produce quality jewellery for domestic and export purposes.