Govt to re-look at gold import curbs after Diwali: Jaitley
New Delhi: Faced with 5-fold rise in gold imports that is pushing up the current account deficit, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said the government would look at re-imposing curbs on gold imports after Diwali.
“Let the festival season be over, I will have a look at it,” said Jaitley replying to a query on whether government will re-impose restrictions on gold imports.
He was however was non-committal on the nature of restrictions the government may go in for.
“I don’t want to spoil the festival season. It is only a few days away. Therefore, after the festival I will have look at it,” Jaitley told ET Now.
The government as well as the Reserve Bank had imposed a string of restrictions on gold imports as country’s current account deficit (CAD) widened to record high of 4.8 per cent of GDP in the financial year 2012-13.
The government had increased customs duty on gold to 10 per cent and banned import of gold coins and medallions, while the RBI linked imports of the metal to exports.
However, the RBI has started easing some of the curbs and allowed more nominated agencies to import the yellow metal.
Gold imports jumped to USD 3.75 billion in September on account of the ongoing festive season. The imports stood at USD 682.5 million in the same month last year.
Higher imports pushed up the country’s trade deficit to about 18-month high of USD 14.2 billion last month.
Gold imports were down for quite a long time following the restrictions.
On extension of excise duty sops for auto sector expiring in December, Jaitley said the government would take a view at the right time.
He also said that the Finance Ministry is in the midst of Budget preparation. The minister said last time he got only 40 days to prepare the Budget, but this time he has got five months.
However, government’s reform agenda should not be judged only by the Budget as several announcements are made outside the Budget as there are 364 more days in the year apart from the Budget presentation day, Jaitley said.
A lot of reforms happen outside the budget, he added.
On his optimism about the performance of the economy, the minister said he expects that the third and fourth quarters of 2014-15 would see economic pick-up.
Jaitley also said he personally believes that RBI should bring down interest rate, but the quantum of the cut is left to the central bank’s judgement.