In the wake of protests by bullion dealers across the country, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday agreed to reconsider the excise duty on unbranded jewellery but ruled out any rollback on the proposed hike in import duty on gold and platinum.
He promised to reconsider the proposal to make it mandatory the use of PAN card for purchase of jewellery above Rs 2 lakh.
“I understand the plight of small jewellers... I am considering it... the period that will be available from now and the passage of finance bill, I will come out with an acceptable formulation,” he said in the Lok Sabha.
Asked by BJP leader Yashwant Sinha to give a commitment that the duty would take prospective effect and not now, he said, “I will examine the demand but without going into the legal implications, I can”t say anything.”
On the demand for reducing import duty on gold that was hiked from 2% to 4% in budget, he said precious foreign exchange was being lost due to high import of gold. India is the largest importer of gold, which was valued at $46 bn in 2011, next only to hydrocarbons.
Calling investments in gold “dead” assets, Mukherjee said huge purchases of gold were adding to the country’s problems. He also promised to look into the demand for the reduction of import duty on raw silk taking into account the interests of weavers and sericulture farmers.