Mumbai: Mr. Praveenshankar Pandya, the newly elected Chairman and Mr. Russell Mehta, the Vice Chairman of the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) addressed their inaugural Press Meet on Tuesday where they focused on some of the issues faced by the gem & jewellery industry and enlisted the industry’s budgetary demands.
Commenting on the slowdown in the global market, Mr. Pandya said, “The current down-turn in key economies of the world has severely impacted the demand and prices of polished diamond and finished jewellery. Moreover, due to strong rough diamond prices the industry is facing prolonged absence of real profitability in business.”
He mentioned that the import of rough diamonds has shown huge decline of 26% during April-September 2015-16 with comparison to the same period last year. “This has impacted the livelihood of the one million work-forces that was employed directly by the industry and may even create further unemployment in the sector,” he added.
Mr. Pandya also described how the Indian G&J industry had become uncompetitive in respect to the international markets. “The sector has been losing its competitive edge to global hubs like Dubai and China, due to high interest costs and unstable taxation policies of the government. I believe that the Indian GJ industry is the perfect example for the Central Government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. However, ease of business is the need of the hour and government support is needed to overcome the challenges,” he added.
On this occasion, the GJEPC also put forward pre-budgetary demands to the Indian Finance Ministry. They are:
- Inclusion of Gems and Jewellery Sector under interest subvention scheme and Merchandise Export from India Scheme (MEIS)
- Introduction of Presumptive Taxation System for Indian Diamond Industry
- Abolition of MAT and DDT for gems and jewellery sector at SEZ
- Ensuring ready availability of Precious metals Gold/Silver/Platinum for small and medium exporters
- Special Notified Zone – The first one is set up, and the Government has agreed to tax modifications; however Legislative amendment in this regard needs to be carried-out and is expected to be promulgated through Finance Bill 2016. Certain other additional policy changes have also been suggested.
- Abolition of 2.5% import duty on cut and polished coloured gemstones
The GJEPC will now strive to set up an SEZ in Surat, pursue the setting up of the Common Facility Centres and through its subsidiary MY KYC Bank, which is expected to enhance transparency in dealings. The new team will also take forward ongoing CSR initiatives and extend relief to the drought affected families in Maharashtra.