New Delhi: India's March gold imports slumped by more than half on an annual basis after jewellery retailers shut their doors nearly three weeks ago to protest tax increases on jewellers and gold imports in the federal budget last month, a top industry executive said Tuesday.
March gold imports totalled 15-20 metric tons, down from an estimated 50-60 tons in the same month last year, said Prithviraj Kothari, president of the Bombay Bullion Association.
"There are hardly any imports. Whatever little banks have imported, it is quoting at a discount in the local market," Kothari said.
International spot gold was trading at USD 1,678.50 a troy ounce at 0550 GMT, up 0.1 percent from its previous settlement.
Jewellers said they won't call off their protest, which began 18 days ago and has hurt demand, unless the government rolls back at least the excise tax on most gold jewellery.
The government said the tax changes are aimed at increasing state revenue, discouraging purchases and limiting the country's current-account deficit. Gold is India's second-largest import item by value after crude oil.