New Delhi: Gold imports jumped by 138 percent to USD 7.5 billion in April, the highest so far this year, pushing up the trade deficit to USD 17.7 billion and may worsen the current account deficit this fiscal.
In April 2012, Gold and silver imports stood at USD 3.1 billion.
"Imports has seen an undue growth of 10.9 percent (in April to USD 41.95 billion) largely contributed by significant increase in gold imports," Commerce Secretary S R Rao told reporters here.
Current Account Deficit (CAD), the difference between inflows and outflows of foreign currency, touched a historic high of 6.7 percent of the GDP in quarter ending December.
The CAD in 2012-13 fiscal is expected to be around 5 percent of the GDP.
Gold and silver imports stood at USD 7.4 billion in January while in February and March it aggregated USD 5.7 billion and USD 3.3 billion respectively.
Apex exporters body Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) President Rafeeque Ahmed too expressed concern over surge in imports.
"The rising gold imports is a cause of concern...There is a need to evaluate rising volume-wise gold imports," Ahmed said.
On steps to discourage gold imports, Director General of Foreign Trade Anup Pujari said the government has imposed certain duty but the steep fall in prices have neutralised its impact.
"...Gold imports have been so much, it is not an accepted thing. In fact all of us have been taken by surprise," Pujari said.
Rao said the absence of alternative avenues of investment was also pushing demand for gold upwards.
"It is an inflation proof investment for a citizen. If economic growth picks up and better avenues for investment (appear), then the consumer behaviour shifts," he said.
The ballooning CAD would put pressure on the country's foreign exchange reserves.
The government and the RBI have been taking steps including hike in tariff on gold from 4 percent to 6 percent, to discourage imports.
First Published: Monday, May 13, 2013, 19:39