Gold imports may fall 11 pct to 750 tonnes in 2013/14

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's gold imports could be 750 tonnes in the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, a government official said, down 11 percent from last year as official measures curb purchases in what has been the world's biggest bullion buyer.

Gold is the most expensive non-essential item in the country's import bill and the government has tried to bring it down, reducing the trade gap and helping bring some stability to the battered rupee currency, which hit a record low last month.

"We have already seen the import of gold coming down drastically," said Arvind Mayaram, economic affairs secretary at the ministry of finance.

"Because of the measures we have taken we expect imports of only 750 tonnes," he said, adding it could be lower.

Gold imports were 845 tonnes in the last fiscal year, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said in July, helping to spur the current account deficit to an all-time high and prompting the government to raise import duty to a record 10 percent.

Chidambaram said then he hoped they would be "well below" that level this year.

"My sense is it would be much sharper than 100 tonnes" fall from "business as usual" levels of 850 tonnes, Mayaram said on Wednesday.

With gold-loving Indians already shipping in 380.5 tonnes between April and July, the latest forecast for annual shipments on Wednesday by Mayaram would mean they will average just over 50 tonnes a month from September until March 31, 2014.

India's gold bonanza came in April and May along with massive buying in the rest of the world as prices slumped. Indians also buy gold as a hedge against inflation and as a traditional gift at festivals and weddings.

The wedding season will kick off in about a month and in addition, this year a hefty monsoon has boosted farm output which could raise incomes in rural areas where 60 percent of India's gold buying comes from.

Domestic prices have climbed to hit a record 35,074 rupees per 10 grams on August 28, partly fuelled by the falling rupee, and international prices have shed 22 percent since the start of the year, helping to keep hopes sustained that gold will still have space to give buyers good returns.

While demand from Indians may rise sharply, supplies remain constrained by the central bank's rules, including its stipulation that 20 percent of all imports must be turned around as jewellery for export.

Mayaram said a cut of 100 tonnes would save $4 billion.

(Reporting by Krishna Das; writing by Siddesh Mayenkar and Jo Winterbottom; editing by James Jukwey)

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Bangalore lose nerve, lose game

Bangalore lose nerve, lose game

IPL 7, GAME 11—Vinay's over, Lynn's catch turns last-over finish in KKR's favour. More »

Kolkata bowling vs Bangalore batting might

Kolkata bowling vs Bangalore batting might

The likely return of Gayle will boost Bangalore, but the result could be determined by Kolkata's bowlers. More »

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting the IPL as a means of protest against the grime in the game may not yield the desired results. More »

Gambhir a knock away from striking form - KKR coach

Gambhir a knock away from striking form - KKR coach

Gautam made an eight-ball duck in the opening game against Mumbai and in the second game against Delhi, he lasted only half those balls. More »

Rivals say Srini group delaying BCCI special general meeting

Rivals say Srini group delaying BCCI special general meeting

The group opposed to Srinivasan alleged that since BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel belongs to the president’s group, he was intentionally delaying the SGM… More »

April 24: A legend is born

As Sachin Tendulkar turns 41 - here's a look at some offbeat moments from the Master Blaster's innings. More »

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

IPL 7, GAME 10—Chennai beat Rajasthan by 7 runs after last-over scare. More »

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

... because, as recent events reveal, the BCCI has little intention of doing it. More »

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Herath has been rested, while the team will be without the veteran pair of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, who retired from T20 internationals… More »

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

Sri Lanka depart for assignments in Ireland and England in two weeks, and Sanath Jayasuriya suggested Marvan Atapattu would be interim head coach for those… More »

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Sri Lanka's cricket selectors on Wednesday sacked Dinesh Chandimal as Twenty20 captain and replaced him with Lasith Malinga, while Angelo Mathews was… More »

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

Dalmiya said that it was the first time that the BCCI had been faced with a situation where the apex court had hauled up the Board and it should have acted… More »

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

The ECB continued the restructuring of the England coaching set-up on Wednesday by announcing the appointment of Paul Farbrace as assistant coach. More »

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

Mukul Mudgal has communicated to the court his willingness to take up the investigation and has been asked to specify the terms and modalities on April… More »

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

The pay dispute between Sri Lanka Cricket and its 13 contracted players ended on Wednesday when the latter agreed to accept 10 percent of the participation… More »

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

With two heavy defeats at the hands of Bangalore and Chennai, Daredevils currently languish near the bottom of the table. More »

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

The Supreme Court prefers that the Justice Mudgal panel further investigate the IPL corruption scandal. More »

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

The Mukul Mudgal probe committee dropped a bombshell in the Supreme Court on Tuesday by making a sensational claim that it was forced to stop audio recording… More »

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

IPL7, GAME 9—Maxwell (95, 43b), Balaji (4-13) set up 72-run win. More »

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Money talks, but it is in light of this ICC shakeup that the ECB's act of soliciting of another team's coach deteriorates from free-market aggression to… More »

Farbrace quits for England post

Farbrace quits for England post

He will assist Peter Moores who was unveiled as the new England coach on Saturday. More »

Moin appointed to manage Pakistan team

Moin appointed to manage Pakistan team

Pakistan on Monday reappointed Moin Khan as chief selector and manager of the national team, a week after fellow former captain Rashid Latif turned down… More »

Chennai smash Delhi for first win

Chennai smash Delhi for first win

IPL7, MATCH 8—Raina-led middle order, superlative catching give CSK a 93-run win. More »

'BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years'

'BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years'

The former BCCI president says he was "disillusioned" by the happenings at the emergent working committee meeting on Sunday. More »