India has allowed five domestic private sector banks to import gold. This move can infact boost gold supplies and bring down premiums for the metal in the world's second-biggest consumer after China.
India enforced the so-called 80/20 rule in July, making it mandatory to export a fifth of all gold imports. Under that rule, only six banks and three state-run trading agencies that had facilitated export of gold or jewellery in the past three years were allowed to import. The six banks were mostly state-run lenders. The RBI has now permitted gold imports within prescribed limits by the private banks even though they had not facilitated any exports of metal or jewellery in the past three years.
"They have decided upon limits on quantities depending upon the number of (current) customers you have for exports," said Shekhar Bhandari, Executive Vice-President of Kotak Mahindra Bank.The move to allow more banks to import gold may raise shipments to about 40 tonnes per month from more than 20 in February, industry officials said. India used to ship in as much 70 tonnes per month, the biggest import after oil that had pushed the current account deficit (CAD) to a record high in the year ended March 2013.
"Supplies will be smooth from now and I think premiums will come down," said Haresh Soni, Chairman of the All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation. "This looks like just a beginning to the further easing of 80/20 rule."