Anand Sharma for easing gold import norms to check smuggling

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I have always favoured a balance, so that we do not run the risk of illicit trade: Anand Sharma (AP) I have always favoured a balance, so that we do not run the risk of illicit trade: Anand Sharma (AP)
SummaryI have always favoured a balance, so that we do not run the risk of illicit trade: Anand Sharma

Advocating relaxation of gold import norms to check smuggling, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said the government will take action at an appropriate time.

"There is a mechanism to periodically review it (gold import norms). We will take an appropriate view as and when required," Sharma told PTI.

In order to check rising Current Account Deficit (CAD), the government has raised import duties and the RBI had imposed curbs on import of the yellow metal and also laid down various pre-conditions for inward shipments of the precious metal.

"We need a balanced approach. We are allowing gold imports for the industry usage. I don't think they can be drastically brought down...that is why, I have always favoured a balance, so that we do not run the risk of illicit trade i.e. smuggling of gold," Anand Sharma said.

The government, he said, needs to ensure that the genuine demands are met and at the same time import is curbed to save foreign exchange.

Gems and jewellery exporters, which accounts for about 15 per cent of the country's total shipments, raised concerns over the restrictions on the imports of the yellow metal and demanded easing of the norms.

Commerce Secretary S R Rao has also asked Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram to consider easing the curbs to push exports.

In the April-October period, gems and jewellery exports stood at USD 24 billion.

Yesterday, in an interview to a television channel, Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan too said that gold smuggling into India will rise if the import curbs continue for too long.

P Chidambaram, Anand Sharma, Kamal Nath to soon meet on FDI in construction

Finance, Commerce and Urban Developments ministers will meet soon to sort out differences over relaxation of FDI norms for the construction sector.

"FDI in construction is being deliberated upon (by the Cabinet). Three ministers will meet. Myself, Finance Minister (P Chidambaram) and Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath. That is what the Cabinet has said...The decision will be (taken) soon," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told PTI.

Sharma said the move will help in attracting more foreign investment in construction and real estate sector.

Last month, the proposal of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) to relax foreign direct investment (FDI) norms in the sector was discussed in the Cabinet meeting but was deferred because of concerns being raised by the Urban Development Ministry on few norms.

The DIPP has proposed easy conditions for exit for developers before the three-year lock-in period and a change in the current requirement of having a minimum built-up area of 50,000 sq mts to 20,000 sq mts of carpet area for FDI in construction development projects.

It has also suggested a uniform minimum capitalisation of USD 5 million for both wholly-owned subsidiaries (WOS) and joint ventures with Indian parters. At present, the capitalisation requirement for WOS is USD 10 million.

Further, the cabinet note had said that such developers can exit on receipt of occupancy and or completion certificate issued by the competent local authority or by way of sale to another non-resident investor subject to a lock-in period of three years from the date of the purchase by the other foreign investor.

However, the transfer from foreigner to another will be permissible only once, with no possibility of waiver of the fresh lock-in period.

Between April 2000 and September 2013, construction development, including townships, housing and built-up infrastructure in the country received FDI worth USD 22.76 billion or 11 per cent of the total FDI attracted by India during the period.

Press Note 2 (2005) of the DIPP allows FDI up to 100 per cent in townships with conditions.

The DIPP which deals with FDI related matter, issues provisions in the form of Press Notes or consolidated circulars.

Although 100 per cent foreign direct investment is allowed in townships, housing and built-up infrastructure and construction developments, the government has imposed conditions.

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