Bangalore, Jan 27: Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma Monday favoured easing curbs on gold imports to help the gems and jewellery industry reeling under shortage of the yellow metal.
“I am for a review of the import policy by the finance ministry and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to ensure equitable and strong playing field to the gems and jewellery industry,” Sharma told reporters on the margins of a trade meet here.
The finance ministry and the RBI imposed restrictions on gold imports earlier this fiscal (2013-14) to reduce the widening current account deficit.
Backing Congress president Sonia Gandhi on seeking to relax import norms on gold, Sharma said he would soon meet Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and director-general of the foreign trade office to discuss changes needed in the policy to promote export of gems and jewellery.
“It is for the finance ministry and the RBI to take the final call. I can only discuss and recommend policy review, as it is essential to import gold for exporting finished goods,” Sharma said.
On the flip side, Sharma said higher curbs opened up the metal to grey area of smuggling and pressure on supply side.
In a letter to Chidamabaram last week, Sonia Gandhi sought easing import curbs on gold as the measure affected the export traders.
Earlier in the day, Chidambaram said restrictions on gold imports would be reviewed by March-end.
“I am confident that by the end of this (fiscal) year, we will be able to revisit some of the restrictions on gold import but will do so only when we are absolutely sure that we have a firm grip on the current account deficit,” Chidambaram said while addressing tax officials at the Customs Day in New Delhi.
Admitting that the curbs led to an increase in gold smuggling, the finance minister said the restrictions were necessary to contain the current account deficit, which shot up to a whopping $88 billion in last fiscal (2012-13).