New Delhi: Gold imports fell sharply by 67.33 percent to 19.6 tonnes in April 2016 as jewellers' strike opposing one percent excise duty on non-silver jewellery significantly hit demand for the metal, according to gold and silver refiner MMTC Pamp.
"Gold imports declined to 19.6 tonnes in April, 2016 as against 60 tonnes in the year-ago period due to poor demand," a senior official at MMTC Pamp told PTI.
Of the total imports, bullion shipments were at 13.14 tonnes in April this year, down from 54 tonnes in the year-ago period, he said.
Citing reasons for the fall, the official said, "not much was imported due to poor demand in the wake of jewellers' strike in April. Whatever gold that was imported in January and February was being used."
Jewellery houses had remained closed since March 2 after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Budget proposed levying 1 percent excise duty on non-silver jewellery. The 42-day strike was temporarily called off after the government assured that there will be no harassment by excise officials.
There was import of small quantity of gold for export purpose, but that has not been included in the total gold imports for April, he added.
MMTC Pamp is a joint venture between state-run MMTC and Switzerland's PAMP.
In 2015-16, the country is estimated to have imported 750 tonnes of gold, as against 971 tonnes in the preceding year. This does not include the imports done for export purpose, according to the MMTC Pamp.
India, the world's largest consumer of gold, imports around 800-900 tonnes of gold annually.