The latest Indian government data released yesterday indicates that private importers have outplayed state-owned trading houses in the quantity of gold imported to the country during the initial six months of current fiscal.
According to data, the five state-owned trading houses in the country accounted for just 6.4% of the total gold imported during the six-month period from April to September this year. The balance gold was imported by private agencies.
More surprisingly, six gold traders accounted for nearly 40% of gold imports. The government also stated that it could not identify any illegality in the bulk imports done by these agencies. All the gold was being imported through legal channel, following the 80:20 export criteria. However, the disparity in import volumes between state-owned and private agencies will be looked into, it added. The Finance Ministry has decided to keep close watch on these six traders to ascertain whether they have indulged in gold hoarding.
The six agencies together had imported only 7.57 tons of gold in April. But imports by them surged to 47.26 tons in September this year. The country’s gold imports had totaled 143 tonnes in September ’14. The higher gold imports were on account of increased demand due to festive season, traders noted.
Meantime, All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF) alleged that gold was not immediately available for jewelers, despite higher gold imports during past two months. This has raised apprehensions that dealers and trading houses are hoarding gold in large quantities, attempting to sell them at higher premiums. Furthermore, the trade body urged the government to monitor the import trends for next two quarters before taking quick decision to curb gold import.