Covid-19: Jewellers want e-commerce policy
Gems and jewellery exporters on Wednesday approached Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman for a supportive e-commerce policy because of the challenges faced during the pandemic.
Industry body Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) has also sought permission to allow the sale of rough diamonds by miners in special notified zones (SNZs), a reduction in the import duty on polished diamonds and strengthening of the the gold monetisation scheme.
“Covid-19 has led to a paradigm shift in consumer behaviour across geographies. With e-commerce gaining momentum, a massive rise is seen in online purchases. Introduction of a supportive e-commerce policy for the sector will drive online jewellery purchases,” GJEPC chairman Colin Shah said.
Shah further said that there was a need for a dedicated system-driven “fast-track customs clearance” of shipment of gems and jewellery valued below $800.
The GJEPC has also sought a cut in polished diamond import duty to 2.5 per cent from 7.5 per cent to strengthen India’s position as a diamond hub.
The council also proposed direct sale of rough diamonds by miners at the SNZs. At present, rough diamonds are sent to SNZs by miners for viewing and are shipped back to Dubai or Antwerp (Belgium).
“Sales aren’t permitted, and if they do, they come under permanent entities as per the IT Act, and attract income tax. The same goods are then shipped back to India via offices in Dubai or Antwerp, thus increasing the costs for the importer,” Shah said, adding as much as 60 per cent of the rough diamond is routed through Antwerp or Dubai.
The council has requested the finance minister that if customers in India choose to confirm their orders, an invoice can be made within the SNZ. Miners could pay a “turnover tax” not exceeding 0.16 per cent (the prevailing rate in Belgium).
On the availability of bank finance, GJEPC vice-chairman Vipul Shah said the industry had access to about Rs 66,580 crore of bank credit, which amounted to 0.68 per cent of the total bank credit of Rs 98,91,788 crore.“We have also raised our concerns over the limited financial support extended by the private banks,” he said.