With improvement in export market conditions, the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council of India (GJEPC) on Monday said if the current pace continues the total shipments are expected to reach around Rs 1.6 lakh crore (USD 20-21 billion) in this financial year.
If the current pace of exports continues to be around USD 2-2.5 million every month, then we'll end the year between USD 20-21 billion, GJEPC Chairman Colin Shah told reporters at a virtual press conference.
He further said exports have slowly been improving as during September, the total shipment was down 26.45 per cent compared to the same month last year, while in October it narrowed to 19 per cent and in November the decline was recorded at just 3.88 per cent. We have been extremely aggressive in the last 3-4 months during this pandemic times in taking various initiatives, especially on the digital front. Our virtual buyer seller meets and the India global connects that we've been doing every fortnight. They've really helped in not only connecting the entire trade together, but also in boosting business, he added.
Several government measures, including the extension of time limit for export credit available on the gold loan, on interest subvention, extension of moratorium on interest and EMI payments, the real classification of MSME, among others have helped the industry get back on its feet, Shah stated. The manufacturing also has been back to normalcy, he said adding that pan-India "we're already all back at 85-90 per cent level, and the 10 per cent which hasn't come back is only because of COVID-19 or certain lockdowns that are still prevalent in certain areas of the country.
Going forward to boost gems and jewellery exports, GJEPC in its pre-Budget proposal has urged the government to reduce the import duty on cut and polished diamonds to 2.5 per cent from the current 7.5 per cent. Besides, it has demanded that the import duty on cut and polished precious and semi-precious gemstones be slashed to 2.5 per cent from 7.5 per cent and import duty on precious metals like gold, silver and platinum be reduced to 4 per cent from 12.5 per cent.
The council also demanded the removal of basic customs duty of 0.50 per cent on rough colour gemstones, amendment in taxation provisions to enable sale of rough diamonds in Special Notified Zone in Mumbai, extension of the existing scheme for Common Facility Centre (CFC) for five years. Shah also urged for a Budget allocation of Rs 200 crore towards the CFC project based on the precinct that each such project will be of around Rs 20-40 crore and at least one mega CFC in each region will be required to be set up.
The proposal also recommended Technology Upgradation Fund (TUF) Scheme for the gems and jewellery industry, fixation of minimum import price and hike in import duty on imitation jewellery, and introduction of Rates and Taxes Refund mechanism through EDI system similar to GST refund. It also demanded increase in import duty on cut and polished cubic zirconia to 15 per cent from 5 per cent and nil duty for rough cubic zirconia as compared to 0.50 per cent to curb import of finished products.
Besides, the council demanded hike in import duty on synthetic cut and polished stones to 25 per cent from 5 per cent, Shah added.