Mandatory hallmarking of gold jewellery likely by Diwali

After implementing excise duty for the gold sector in the last six months, the government has announced to make hallmarking of gold jewellery mandatory by Diwali.

The Bill to amend Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) Act has been passed and amendments have been notified in the Gazette in late last month after president’s assent. This gives powers to the government to decide the date from which these will be implemented.

According to sources in the Government, now procedurally government will have to first notify rules for the same. Simultaneously, talks with the industry stakeholders and the infrastructure related issues are being discussed. According to information from the BIS, there are 375 hallmarking centres in the country and at present those jewellers who are getting their jewellery hallmarked have to take the each piece of jewellery to the Centre.

From this perspective, number of centres in many states are only one or in single digit. Official sources said that at present the government is reviewing several issues including whether industry is well equipped to handle additional business when the hallmarking is made mandatory, making rules, whether there is a need for relaxing norms with a view to allow more players including jewellers for setting up such centers and other procedural aspects. The whole process is expected to be completed within six months and before Diwali.

According to estimates of informed sources, in 2014-15, 500 tonnes jewellery was hallmarked. Each piece has to be hallmarked, which means approximately 3.7 crore pieces assuming average 10 gram piece of jewellery. 65 per cent of the jewellery is estimated to have been hallmarked in south India where jewellery trade is more organised. Out of 375, 161 Hallmarking centers are in four major states of Southern India. Rest of the Hallmarking is almost equally divided in east, west and Northern India.

In North, trade is largely unorganised and less number of jewellery is said to be hallmarked. Sources said that the organised nature of trade where large part of jewellery is making is on books is the main reason for early withdrawal of the strike in Southern India. However, mandatory hallmarking, with changes in law, is seen as a significant milestone. So far, hallmarking was not having a strong legal back up. It was done by issuing a circular over a decade ago. Now, with amendment of Act, BIS would be better placed to implement the mandatory hallmarking, explained the official. Although, hallmarking industry doesn’t see this as a limiting factor as far as mandatory hallmarking of gold jewellery is concerned.

K Anand Kumar, secretary, Indian Hallmarking center’s association said, “Capacity to hallmark gold jewellery with the Center’s is actually under-utilised and hence if government implements the mandatory Hallmarking the industry is equipped to handle the extra burden.” According to him, issue is not in infrastructure, the Centre will just have to finalise rules and implement the decision.

Courtesy: Business Standard