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Wednesday, 18 February 2015

RBI allows banks to give gold on loan to jewellers

RBI also says export houses can import it without end-use restrictions; removes prohibition on import of gold coins
The Reserve Bank of India on Wednesday allowed nominated banks to provide gold on loan to jewellers.

In a late evening notification, issued to clarify the status ofafter removal of the 80:20 scheme in end-November, the central bank also said there would be no restriction on import of gold coins, although commercial banks will still not be allowed to sell these in the home market.

Analysts said all jewellery shares would open higher on Thursday, their funding cost comes down.

Nominated banks for gold import would now be able to import the yellow metal on consignment bases. Meaning, they can import and pay once they actually sell the gold and realise the payment. Banks can also provide gold on loan to jewellers.

This opens the gold import route further and addresses the liquidity crunch of jewellers, who were made to pay the full amount for buying gold since mid-2013.

Haresh Soni, president of the All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation, said, “Jewellers' funding cost will come down as gold will be available on loan by only giving a bank guarantee. So far, they had to use cash-credit limits.”

“This will help the ailing sector as this move will address jewellers’ liquidity issues,” said Sudheesh Nambiath, senior analyst at GFMS Thomson Reuters.

RBI has said sale of gold to jewellers will have to be against full payment only. Jewellers will, however, prefer to take it on loan rather than purchasing outright. Banks were importing much less gold since removal of the 80:20 scheme in end-November.

In another important clarification, RBI has allowed star and premium trading houses or status holder export houses to import gold without end-use restrictions. This means, said an analyst, that they will be able to import  by making full payment and can hold or even use that for trading.

Regarding the export obligation prior to removal of 80:20, RBI has clarified, “The obligation will continue to apply in respect of unutilised gold imported before November 28, 2014, the date of abolition of the scheme.”

Since June 1, 2014, star and premier trading houses were importing almost 60-70 per cent of total imports. 
RBI has also clarified that, “import of and medallions will no longer be prohibited.”

However, pending further review, the restrictions on banks in selling gold coins and medallions are not being removed.

Haresh Soni of GJF said that removal of restrictions on gold coins import will help jewelers to import coins and sell them freely. 

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