Gold council to aid exports on the anvil

Restoring the glitter:Exports must get priority sector lending tag, says Suresh Prabhu.Reuters  

The Centre has decided to set up a Domestic Council for Gold to aid exports of jewellery and to create an ecosystem to harness the true potential for jewellery-making in the country.

Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu said the council would work towards industry development, job creation, building of regional clusters and strengthening of value chains. He was speaking at the 44th India Gem & Jewellery Awards 2017 organised by the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), in Mumbai on Saturday.

“This council will represent all the jewellers of India who will be the electoral college. They will form different interest groups and elect those who will sit in the council,” he said, adding the council would provide domestic support for exports.

“Every village has a jeweller who makes handmade and custom-made jewellery. These artisans will be helped by jewellery designers to come out with products with better value, which will be ultimately exported by big companies,” he said. “We want to develop such a model,” he added. The Minister said that GJEPC and the Centre were working together to formulate a strategy to achieve the desired objective.

‘To address concerns’

A Coordination Committee will be set up comprising senior officials of the Ministry and the gem and jewellery industry, who will meet monthly to ensure that industry concerns are addressed on priority. The first meeting of the committee will be held on August 1.

Even as the gem and jewellery sector is rocked by the Nirav Modi scam, the Minister said that the genuine credit needs of the industry must be met by the banking sector. “Exports is a strategic issue. It is a priority for India but not [marked for] priority sector lending for the banking sector. This is a complete paradox. I have asked RBI Governor to treat exports as priority sector [for] lending.”

He added that India’s exports in 2017-18 were the highest in six years, and exports had been growing at a higher rate the last few months. He said that if this trend continued, India may be able to register record exports growth in 2018-19.