Government preparing comprehensive gold policy

To cover entire gamut of precious metals, diamonds; commerce ministry holds meeting with all stakeholders.

The Government of India is preparing a comprehensive gold policy, to be announced in January with the Union Budget. This is the first time the government has taken such an initiative. It is to include the stated policy, setting up of gem and jewellery parks and regulations for testing and certifying agencies, to primarily address issues of the diamond industry.

Recently, the ministry of commerce held an all-industry stakeholders meet, to discuss the gold and gem & jewellery business. The policy will aim at setting up a National Gold Board, an umbrella body to advise the government on all aspects — monetisation scheme, sovereign bonds, imports, trading, bullion exchange, hallmarking, refining, etc.

The board proposal was also discussed in January-February last year but not vigorously followed up. Now, a national goods and services tax coming into place and would change the way the bullion business is done. Hallmarking of all precious metals has been made compulsory; it is likely to be implemented in phases from Diwali. The gold monetisation scheme is yet to take off and market prices are at a discount for six months; imports have fallen. “The government thinks this is the most appropriate time to form a comprehensive gold policy,” said a source in the know.

With hallmarking compulsory, jewellery parks accommodating such centres will improve the ease of doing business, explained the source. These would require skilled workers for, hence, a skills council set up for the gem & jewellery industry has given its views, said the source. Surendra Mehta, secretary, Indian Bullion and Jewellers Association said, “We have also made submissions on gold policy issues, including a gold exchange and introducing of (global) best practices that shall be followed up by importers, bullion refiners and all other stakeholders.” Association had proposed a joint venture with the BSE stock exchange to set up a gold exchange but there has been no progress.

The issue of laboratory-grown diamonds was also discussed in this meet. The ministry had invited representatives of diamond certifying agencies, for which new regulations are being considered. Other issues discussed included the interest equalisation scheme for the gem & jewellery sector and making gold available to smaller exporters.

Courtesy: Business Standard