Mountain Province announced the discovery of a first new kimberlite discovery at Gahcho Kué in 20 years

Mountain Province Diamonds Inc. announced the discovery of a new kimberlite at its Gahcho Kué Joint Venture (GKJV) leases.

14 june 2019

Lucara mulls best way to sell 1,758-ct diamond recovered at Karowe

Lucara Diamond Corporation, which recently recovered a 1,758-carat diamond at its Karowe mine in Botswana, is considering the best way to sell the world’s second largest diamond in modern history.

14 june 2019

Botswana Diamonds’ associate gets nod to sell diamonds from Thorny River bulk sampling

Botswana Diamonds said its 40%-owned Vutomi has been granted permission to sell diamonds recovered during bulk sampling at their Thorny River project, in South Africa.

14 june 2019

ALROSA earns over $2 mln from sales of polished diamonds in Israel

ALROSA, a global leader in diamond mining, held a tender for polished diamonds of own manufacture in Israel. The company’s cutting division – DIAMONDS ALROSA organized the tender.

14 june 2019

GJEPC presents pre-budget proposals to the Indian government

The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council of India (GJEPC) has been talking with the Government of India to address major Banking Issues affecting G&J industry.

14 june 2019

India’s gem and jewellery industry expects the government will consider its demand for lower import duty on raw materials

25 march 2019

pramod_kumar-agrawal-xx.pngA go-getter at heart, with an attitude to match, Pramod Kumar Agrawal, Chairman of the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) of India is a man in a hurry. He has not left any stone unturned to bring back the Indian gem & jewellery industry back to its glorious days. Pramod Agrawal, along with the GJEPC Committee members, has been actively leading from the front, right from approaching the government for sops to spearheading all the GJEPC initiatives for the benefit of the whole industry. He has immense faith in the Indian government to work out an industry-friendly policy for the country’s G&J industry.

An astute businessman, Pramod Agrawal is the Chairman of Derewala Industries Limited-- a Jaipur based conglomerate employing 1500 people across 4 unit, producing and supplying gold jewellery, silver jewellery, and imitation fashion jewellery in India and abroad.

Besides steering his Derewala Group to a successful conglomerate, Agrawal has been a Member of Committee of Administration in GJEPC for many years. Regional Chairman of GJEPC – Rajasthan Region; Chairman of Indian Institute of Gem and Jewellery (IIGJ), Jaipur; was associated with GJC and Jewellers Association, Jaipur; Convener of the Jewellers Association Show – JAS to name a few.

Here, in an interview with Rough & Polished, Pramod Agrawal expresses his candid thoughts on the current industry situation; but also sees the resilient Indian G&J industry overcome all hurdles and surge forward as it has done during last few decades.

Some excerpts:

The IIJS Signature that concluded recently generated varied reviews, with mixed reactions about its success. According to you, did the Show this year live up to its reputation of a niche show? Your thoughts?

IIJS Signature is India's top-of-the-line jewellery show, showcasing the best jewellery collections by the country’s leading manufacturers. This year too it has lived up to its reputation of a niche show with more than 18,000 visitors from over 325+ cities and towns pan India and more than 55 countries globally. The show had buyer delegations from countries such as the UK, UAE, Russia, Malaysia, Iran, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal & Uzbekistan amongst others. I am sure that IIJS Signature has presented the trade with a wonderful opportunity to commence the year’s buying season.

Financing seems to be the main hurdle crippling the industry at present. Have the steps taken by GJEPC with banks/government eased the problem to an extent? What’s the situation right now in the industry?

Bank finance is extremely crucial for the growth of the gem & jewellery trade. GJEPC has been making constant endeavors and taking measures to smoothen the process. However, the lack of finance to the industry has impacted the business; and gem & jewellery exports in the financial year 2018-19 may witness a marginal decline of 5%.

Now that Indian banks are set to deal mostly with incorporated diamond manufacturers, do you think this may result in lower total purchases of rough by India’s diamond processing industry?

In the last five years, there have been fluctuations in rough imports from time to time, but it hasn’t been drastic. However, 2018 would see a decrease in imports of rough diamonds, but this doesn’t mean there would be in totality a lower purchase going forward. We are expecting things will improve as soon as the bank financing issue is sorted for the industry.

Rough Diamond Imports to India

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India’s import of rough diamonds from April 2018 to January 2019 showed a decline of 16.74% by value and 12.84% by volume compared with the similar period last year. Can you say in what categories of rough the decline in imports was the greatest?

In the first half of 2018, there was no drop in the import of rough diamonds, resulting in more production of small size which India specializes in cutting and polishing.

However, globally in the second half of the year, there was a drop in demand for smaller polished diamonds. And sensing this, Indian manufactures didn’t buy this category of rough and adjusted their stock position accordingly. There was a reduction in the price of small rough diamonds resulting in 16.84% drop in value together with a 12.84% drop in carats.

The recent Interim Budget was rather disappointing for the Indian G&J industry. Do you think the Indian government will address all the issues put forth by GJEPC in the full budget in July? What do you anticipate?

We welcome the Government’s thrust on ensuring progress and prosperity through the budget. The relief given in direct tax to middle classes and farmers will be good for increasing jewellery demand in the country. Also, we hope that with the capital infused in the banking sector and banks coming out of PCA will help in solving the shortage of working capital for our exporters.

Although there was no announcement for the gem & jewellery sector in the interim budget, we are happy that in the last year, there were many circulars released by the Govt. in terms of policy changes. Some of which are exemption of 3% IGST on supply of gold by nominated agencies to exporters; abolition of the requirement of establishing one to one correlation between the consignment of gold/silver/platinum imported and the export of jewellery, increased job work period of the Jewellery for SEZ units, Exemption of IGST on gold being supplied by Nominated Agencies, Interest Subvention, etc.

However, we are expecting that our demand for a decrease in import duty of raw materials like gold, silver, cut & polished diamonds and coloured gemstones would also be considered by the Govt. and give us the level playing field with other competing countries.

Are the ‘Common Facility Centres’ (CFC) initiated by GJEPC in various centres in India being utilized in full capacity now? According to some industry members, the facility could be used by smaller units too if offered at reasonable rates. Your views on this?

The CFCs have been set up in remote areas of the Gujarat namely Visnagar, Palanpur, Amreli & Junagadh. These CFC services are available to the MSME units at affordable prices. The main purpose of the CFC is to provide the advanced technology & machinery to the SMEs of the sector to enable them to use it for their production purpose at reasonable rates. More than 200 SME unit holders have been benefitted by setting up 4 CFCs across Gujarat.

When will the 'booking' begin for the manufacturing units at IJP... any deadline? What's the procedure? Are banks being roped in to fund the prospective buyers, especially the MSMEs?

We are in the process of making a full-fledged report which will also have the pricing details of the units and procedures to acquire units in Jewellery Park. We plan to open the bookings in the next 6 months. Also, we would approach the banks to fund the prospective buyers, especially for the MSMEs.

Are foreigners (non-Indians) eligible to purchase or take on lease, manufacturing units at the upcoming IJP? Again, what's the procedure & deadline for booking?

Yes, we are marketing the Jewellery Park extensively in jewellery manufacturing countries like Turkey, UAE, Italy, Hong Kong, so that people come here to set up units not only for exports but also for supplying to the domestic market.

While IIJS & IIJS Signature are India’s ‘much in demand shows’, enthusiastic exhibitors are denied opportunities to participate due to space constraints. Maybe the State government can act on GJEPC’s request for many years to help with an Exhibition & Convention Centre. Any further steps were taken by the GJEPC of late; and the government’s reactions?

Every year our effort has been to accommodate as many exhibitors at IIJS show. To an extent, we have been successful in giving an opportunity to new applicants. In the year 2018, we have accommodated 222 new exhibitors at the IIJS.

Below are the last 3 year’s data: 

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Every year, the Council has been organising these exhibitions with basic infrastructure created every year spending crores. This exhibition witnesses more than 35,000 business visitors with the registration of overseas customers exceeding 1500 customers.

We look forward to the Convention Centre set up by Reliance in Mumbai for organizing exhibitions. However, we are hopeful that the Government would consider our request for the Convention Centre.

Finally, how do you see the Indian G&J industry’s growth progressing in the next few years? What steps should be taken to grow a healthy, transparent and conscientious industry going forward?

The council has been taking initiatives for sustainable development of the industry. Apart from focusing on self-regulation measures, Council has set up new gem and jewellery institutes at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Udupi in Karnataka. Council has plans to set up Common Facility Centre in all major gem and jewellery clusters in India. For that, a cluster mapping study has been initiated by the Council through NCAER. In fact, the Council has already set up 4 Common Facility Centres in Gujarat which provide the advanced technology & machinery to the SMEs of the sector to enable them to use it for their production purpose at reasonable rates. Also, with the Govt. support, Council is setting up one of its kind Jewellery Park in Mumbai soon.

The global demand for gems and jewellery is increasing especially from the USA, and our industry is well skilled and equipped to meet these demands. We are hopeful that the industry will be back on a growth trajectory as soon as all the genuine players get finance from banks.

Aruna Gaitonde, Editor in Chief of the Asian Bureau, Rough & Polished