Gold imports from India, the world's biggest buyer of bullion, could rise on pent-up demand from jewellers after the government decided to scrap an excise duty on jewellery it imposed in March, the head of a trade body said on Monday.
The government will withdraw the excise duty on all jewellery effective March 17 -- the date it was introduced -- Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the parliament.
Tax levied on branded and unbranded jewellery has also been withdrawn.
"People (gold traders) who were on the sidelines will come back to the market ... jewellery demand will improve in the coming weeks," Prithviraj Kothari, president of the Bombay Bullion Association, told Reuters by telephone.
Jewellers in India, which imported more than 950 tonnes last year -- a new record -- went on strike in March to protest at the imposition of the duty and ended their action after three weeks on reassurances from Mukherjee the government would consider scrapping the tax.
The government did not roll back its doubling of the import duty on gold to 4% of value.