India’s gold imports to rebound in 2017 on restocking, good monsoon

Two-thirds of India’s gold demand comes from rural areas, where jewelry is a traditional store of wealth. (Reuters)
Updated 13 August 2017

India’s gold imports to rebound in 2017 on restocking, good monsoon

PANAJI, India: India’s gold imports are likely to jump by a third in 2017 to 750 tons on restocking by jewellers and as good monsoon rainfall is expected to boost demand in rural areas during the upcoming festive season, a leading refiner said.
Higher imports by the world’s second biggest consumer will support global prices, which are trading near their highest level in two months, but could widen the country’s trade deficit.
“Demand and imports are normalizing after taking a hit last year. Jewellers are restocking after destocking last year,” said Rajesh Khosla, managing director of MMTC-PAMP India, the country’s biggest refinery.
India, whose gold consumption is rivalled only by China’s, imported 557.7 tons of gold in 2016, the lowest in 13 years, according to the World Gold Council.
In the first seven months of the 2017, imports more than doubled to 550 tons from the same period a year earlier, according to provisional data from consultancy GFMS.
But import growth would taper off in coming months as jewellers had restocked earlier than usual this year, fearing higher taxes, Khosla said on the sidelines of the International Gold Convention in Panaji, capital of India’s western resort state of Goa.
As part of a new nationwide sales tax regime that kicked in on July 1, the goods and services tax on gold jumped to 3 percent from 1.2 percent previously.
“Jewellery demand has improved this year but investment demand is still weak due to a rally in the stock market and the appreciating rupee,” said Prithviraj Kothari, managing director of RiddiSiddhi Bullions.
The rupee has risen nearly 6 percent so far in 2017 and is trading near its highest level in more than two years.
“Monsoon rainfall is normal this year. This will boost rural demand during the festivals,” said a Singapore-based official with a leading gold supplying bank to India.
Two-thirds of India’s gold demand comes from rural areas, where jewelry is a traditional store of wealth.
The quarter ending in December typically accounts for about a third of India’s gold sales since it includes the start of the wedding season and festivals such as Dhanteras and Diwali, when buying gold is considered auspicious.


Egypt banks step up anti-virus efforts

Updated 51 min 50 sec ago

Egypt banks step up anti-virus efforts

  • asures recommended by the Federation of Egyptian Banks also include a ban on face-to-face meetings.

CAIRO: Up to half of bank employees in Egypt will be encouraged to work from home under guidelines to counter a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Measures recommended by the Federation of Egyptian Banks (FEB) also include a ban on face-to-face meetings.

In a letter to banks, the FEB said its guidelines were aimed at ensuring sustainable operations “in the current circumstances.”

Banks will continue to operate from 8.30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the public and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for employees.

Previous guidelines were issued by the FEB on March 30 and April 5.

The federation's latest plan includes a follow-up on alternative workplaces to allow departments to continue working in cases of forced interruption.

The plan also issues strict instructions on wearing face masks in the workplace and while using the bank’s buses.

Employees also have been urged to follow precautionary measures while using public or private transport, and to avoid crowded places.

The FEB banned face-to-face meetings, replacing these with video conference meetings, and also underlined instructions to sanitize all surfaces using alcohol-based sanitizers, to regularly sanitize all workplaces at weekends, to provide sanitizers in areas that host employees and clients, and to regularly sanitize all main elevators.

Office boys and janitors have been instructed to wear face masks and to use paper cups instead of glass or metal ones.

The FEB said it will continue to post awareness videos and statements on combating the coronavirus.

It has urged banks to use e-payments, to continue banning delivery persons from entering the workplace, to continue halting the delivery of daily newspapers and magazines, and to continue temperature testing by security officials at workplace entrances.