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India’s attempts to reduce gold imports show signs of success

Monday, January 25, 2016

India’s gold monetisation programme has so far pulled in 900kgs of the precious metal since it was launched on November 5 last year.

The figure was announced by Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das, who tweeted: “Gold Monetisation Scheme: More than 900 kgs gold mobilised so far. Scheme making steady progress. Expected to pick up in coming months."

The Indian government opened up the scheme to persuade people to part with some of the estimated 20,000 tonnes of gold that is currently stored in homes and temples. The country is the world’s second biggest gold importer after China and the precious metal accounts for India’s second biggest import bill after crude oil.

The monetisation scheme is aiming to reduce the import costs and help meet domestic demand from consumers. The programme is one of a number of measures, including gold recycling centres, where ‘scrap’ or unwanted gold can be exchanged for cash. The precious metal is then turned into bullion bars to be sold to investors within India.

In November, the Indian government authorised banks to collect gold for up to 15 years. The stocks can be auctioned or loaned to jewellers, while those depositing the precious metal earn a return of 2.5 per cent interest on the value of their gold.

People depositing their gold do so through 46 authorised Assaying and Hallmarking Centres which have been designated as Collection and Purity Testing Centres for the scheme. Participating banks are also able to take gold deposits from their customers.

Last year, India imported 900 tonnes of gold, a rise of 25 per cent on 2014. Buyers benefited from a good time to buy gold while the value of the precious metal was lower on world markets. Analysts will be watching the stock markets closely this week after last week’s volatility, which sent the gold price higher as investors sought a safe haven for their cash.