The All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF) today expressed disappointment and shock at the interim Budget presented by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, and requested the government to bring down the import duties on gold to curb smuggling.
"The entire Gems & Jewellery industry is deeply disappointed and shocked... Government seems to be insensitive to the plight of lakhs of families of goldsmiths and craftsmen, who are suffering due to lack of work," it said.
"The government is turning a blind eye to the increasing instances of gold smuggling that is creating a parallel economy. Our several representations have been ignored," GJF Chairman Haresh Soni said in a statement.
"We urge the government to keep import duties on gold low to eliminate smuggling and immediately remove the 80:20 Rule while allowing consignment gold imports to ensure fair open market controlled business. We urge the Government to keep import duties on ready finished imports moderately high to protect Indian industry," he said.
The federation feels that the G&J industry is being discriminated against, because excise duty relief has been granted to luxury items such as large/mid-sized cars & SUVs.
The domestic gems and jewellery industry, which employs 40 lakh people, had a market size of Rs 251,000 crore in 2013, with a potential to grow to Rs 500,000-530,000 crore by 2018. But its growth has been curbed after the gold import controls were introduced in August 2013, it said.
Reiterating that gold cannot be considered as the only factor responsible for the growing current account deficit, GJF said that the Government should recognise people's sentiments in treating gold jewellery as the best social security.
Manufacturing facilities in the G&J industry were lying unutilised due to Government policies, it said, adding that the sector has not attracted any national or international investment in jewellery manufacturing and the technology has not been upgraded.