Gold imports in 2013-14 stood at 638 tonnes, a decline of 25 percent over the previous fiscal, Parliament was informed today. The quantity of gold imported in 2012-13 was 845 tonnes and in 2011-12 it was 919 tonnes, Minister of State for Finance, Nirmala Sitharaman said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.
In the April-June period of current fiscal, the quantum of gold import stood at 221 tonnes while in value terms it was Rs 54,792 crore, she said. The value of gold imported was at Rs 2.28 lakh crore during 2011-12, Rs 2.45 lakh crore in 2012-13 and Rs 1.60 lakh crore in 2013-14.
Sitharaman said the cases of gold smuggling had gone up in 2013-14 at 2,441. In 2012-13 and 2011-12 the number of such cases stood at 869 and 500 respectively. Following a sudden spurt in gold import in the beginning of 2013, the government had hiked import duty on the precious metal to 10 per cent in phases.
Also the government and the Reserve Bank imposed certain other import restrictions, including linking of imports to exports to prevent outgo of foreign exchange, adding to instances of smuggling.
Sitharaman said the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has communicated to all field formations to keep a close watch on the trend of smuggling of gold. Other intelligence agencies, like the DRI are also keeping a close watch on gold smuggling, she added.
High gold imports also pushed up the current account deficit as it rose to USD 88.2 billion or 4.7 percent of GDP in 2012-13. Through import curbs, the CAD has been brought down to USD 32.4 billion or 1.7 percent in 2013-14.