The Union commerce ministry has sought a reduction in the import duty on gold in the coming Union Budget, with a view to pushing manufacturing and export of the gems and jewellery sector, a source said.
In last year’s Budget, the government raised the tariff on gold to 12.5 per cent. Since then, the global price of gold has risen nearly 20 per cent, magnifying the rise in customs duty. These, the gems and jewellery sector has pleaded, are choking the high-jobs generating sector.
Jewellery retailers and exporters have urged the tariff be cut and also the goods and services tax (GST) on jewellery certification.
“In the past 12-18 months, at least 20 per cent of a skilled workforce of an estimated million has migrated to other services, including food delivery chains like Swiggy and public car transportation services like Ola and Uber. Migrated skilled workers, according to them, earn around Rs 45,000 a month, which the jewellery industry cannot match due to a slowdown in domestic sales,” said Anantha Padmanabhan, managing director at Chennai-based NAC Jewellers.
There has been a steep decline in jewellery sales over 12 months, because of both the sharp increase in gold prices and a slowing of the overall economy. At Rs 39,670 for 10g, gold prices in India have risen 25 per cent in a year.
“The scenario is very bad for the domestic industry. Another 5 per cent increase in gold prices from here would finish it,” said Padmanabhan.
“There is an immediate need for a cut in customs duty to five per cent. With the current account deficit situation under control at 1.5 per cent (of gross domestic product) for April-September 2019, we appeal to the government for this. The import duty on rough diamonds should also be brought down to 2.5 per cent, from the existing 7.5 per cent. And, the GST on diamond certification must be cut to 5 per cent, from 18 per cent,” said Colin Shah, vice-chairman, Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council.
Gross export of gems and jewellery declined by 5.3 per cent to $27.7 billion for the first nine months of this financial year, from $29.2 billion for the corresponding period last year.