Budget 2014: FM Arun Jaitley needs to consider easing gold import curbs, says Nirmala Sitharaman

Commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that her ministry has recommended that the finance ministry seriously consider easing import curbs on gold to help the beleaguered gems and jewelery export sector.

Speaking to ET, Sitharaman, who is also minister of state for finance, said that while the current account deficit (CAD) crisis had been somewhat ameliorated by the import curbs on gold, it had deeply affected revenues generated by the gems and jewellery’s sector, an important earner of foreign exchange.

“During the pre-budget consultation, there has been a lot of thinking going on, on the gold issue. We have had so many of our exporters telling us, especially our gems and jewellery exporters who have made significant contributions to our balance of payments situation, that they have suffered. We don’t want that,” she said.

She added that the contribution of this sector to export revenues meant that the issue of curbing gold imports has to be looked at afresh. “They are telling us, that very well there is a crisis due to which these curbs were brought in, but now this is a new crisis, that of exports getting hit,” she said.

On that count we have strongly recommended to the finance minister that a fresh look has to be taken at import curbs on gold, that a sector which is instrumental in bringing in so much revenue cannot be hit like this,” she added.

While the crisis in Iraq was troublesome as far as hardening of oil prices was concerned, she said that the petroleum ministry had assured the government that “alternative sourcing of fuel” was going on and that it would be possible to control¬†inflationary pressures of that.

On the question of food security and differences with developed countries over food security which came to the fore at the Bali Round of the WTO talks, Sitharaman said she had spoken to the US trade secretary, and had communicated that the position taken by the government of India had been absolutely consistent with the WTO.

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