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India’s basic customs duty on semi-processed, processed diamonds rationalized at 2.5 % with no change in gold import duty

14 july 2014

The Union Budget-2014 (10-2-2014) of the Government of India (GOI) has disappointed the Indian gems and jewellery industry, with no bold reforms by the New Government’s First Budget. The gems and jewellery industry was looking forward for more sops from the government to help the industry grow.
However, Vipul Shah, Chairman, GJEPC, through a press release has welcomed the Export Promotion Mission and SEZ revival by the GOI and said, “The Finance Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitley has maintained the populist front, announcing various small measures and state level schemes. However, none of them promise any major impact on the gems and jewellery sector. The industry is happy that our recommendation for rationalization of import duty of broken diamonds and withdrawal of import duty on preforms of semiprecious and precious stones have been accepted. Also the rationalization of import duty on processed diamonds to 2.5% will help the domestic manufacturing sector. However, the jewellery sector is largely disappointed as the import duty on gold has not been reduced even by 2-3%; which will continue the occurrence of gold smuggling.”
Shah also added the gems and jewelry industry has a reason to cheer with the renewed focus on promotion of exports and reviving the SEZs in the country. The GJEPC is in the process of presenting its recommendations for reviving the gems and jewellery SEZs in the country and will submit the same to the Government shortly.
He also welcomed the steps to improve the infrastructure for exports in all states by forming an Export Promotion Mission along with the State by the Central Government. The Council’s long standing demand of creating a Convention Centre of 1 million sq. ft. in Mumbai may soon become a reality. The formation of skilled India is encouraging and the sectorial skills will also get the right focus.
Shah said that the industry welcomes the intent of the Government to rationalize the direct tax mechanism for faster settlement of tax disputes as this industry is one of the main victims of such disputes. The industry will also wait for the fine print of Transfer Pricing, which may have impact on the diamond industry due to its international nature of business and expects that the Government will accept its recommendations on benign tax under the tax reforms program in the long run.
Shah noted that the Budget is almost industry neutral, without any of the sector’s demands like introduction of benign tax at practical rates, decrease of import duty on gold bullion and introduction of procedurals for creation of SEZ for rough diamonds, finding any mention in the budget. However, the industry believes that this Budget shows the intent of the Government is positive which will improve the fiscal position of the country.
Expressing his unhappiness about the Union Government’s Budget Proposals, Haresh Soni, Chairman, The Gem & Jewellery Federation of India (GJF) said, “The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley has ignored the plight of the trade in spite of several representations and meetings by the federation with the ministry, highlighting the severe hardship faced by the industry due to restrictive policy measures of the government in the last financial year.”
“We had high hopes from the new government to provide relief to the gems and jewellery industry since millions of workers were looking at the new government to address their sufferings due to job losses in the last several months”, Soni said and added that “the GJF would continue to urge the Government against injustice meted out to the sector.’’

Aruna Gaitonde, Rough&Polished correspondent in India