Consumer Issues
Make gold hallmarking mandatory to safeguard consumers: CAG

According to the CAG report, consumers are exposed to the risk of buying impure gold jewellery due to inadequate coverage of Indian jewellers and goldsmiths as the hallmarking is not mandatory

New Delhi: To protect consumers from unscrupulous jewellers, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has advised the government to enforce compulsory hallmarking of gold jewellery, reports PTI.


Hallmarking of gold, which is voluntary at present, is a purity certification of the precious metal. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), under the Consumer Affairs Ministry, is the administrative authority of hallmarking.


"The Consumer Affairs Ministry and BIS may consider hallmarking of gold jewellery under mandatory certification so as to safeguard the interst of the consumers," CAG said in a report tabled in Parliament on Thursday.


Consumers were exposed to the risk of buying impure gold jewellery due to inadequate coverage of Indian jewellers and goldsmiths under the BIS's volunatary hallmarking scheme as the hallmarking was not made mandatory, it noted a report.


It also said BIS Act had not been amended to cover hallmarking under mandatory certification.


Noting that the reply of the BIS is not acceptable that the jurisdication to amend the Act for making gold hallmarking mandatory rested with the Consumer Affairs Ministry, it said, "Since it (BIS) is the national standard body of the country and is mandated to provide quality assurance to the consumers, whether the concerned standard is made mandatory or not."


In early January, the Cabinet had approved the BIS (Amendment) Bill that aims to expand the ambit of mandatory hallmarking to include more products, including gold. The Bill has not yet been introduced in Parliament.




5 years ago

The way in which public funds and nation’s resources are treated and the revelations about scant attention paid to even simple regulatory reforms that can safeguard citizen’s interests makes one wonder about what actually the legislators are doing. One has to be stupid to believe that responsible authorities were not aware of the benefits implementation of the suggestion for compulsory hall-marking of gold jewellery will bring. Delay, as in many other cases which are scam-infected, is protecting the interests of unscrupulous and greedy elements in the society profiteering from the loop-holes in law. Beyond standardization and hall-marking, gold management needs a makeover from policy angle.
Time is opportune for authorities to think in terms of dedicated professional institutions at regional/state level which will handle gold from a banking angle, equipped with linkages for import and export of gold and gold products as also gold processing and certification, with borrowing and lending capabilities. States like Kerala have successfully intervened in other similar sectors like chits/kuris and lotteries, which were also areas of exploitation by vested interests, whereby players in private sector had to fall in line and function with discipline and self-regulation.M G Warrier

Little growth sacrifice inevitable to rein in prices: Subbarao

Responding to criticism over high inflation, the RBI governor said some sacrifice of growth in inevitable, a necessary price we have to pay to bring down inflation

New York: As India seeks to control high inflation, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor D Subbarao has said a little sacrifice in growth is "inevitable" amid efforts to bring down prices to acceptable levels, reports PTI.
Subbarao said criticism is often directed towards the central bank that even though it has raised interest rates and runs a tight monetary policy, inflation is still "high and persistent" and growth has been hurt.
The RBI's response to the criticism is that "some sacrifice of growth in inevitable, a necessary price we have to pay to bring down inflation. But that sacrifice of growth is only in the short term.
"In the medium term, a low and stable inflation is a necessary precondition for securing India's growth prospects," Subbarao said during a lecture at Asia Society on 'India in a Globalizing World - Some Policy Dilemmas', here on Wednesday.
Inflation based on the Wholesale Price Index stood at 6.87% in July, declining from 7.25% in June.
It is still however much above RBI's comfort level of 5-6%.
Noting that inflation was down from 11% in 2010 to below 7% in July this year, Subbarao said inflation could have been much higher if RBI had not run a tight policy.
The challenge for the RBI is to ensure inflation is reined in without hurting growth, he said.
"In order to support growth, we need to keep interest rates low but in order to rein in inflation we have to keep interest rates high. The challenge is how do we manage growth-inflation trade off," he said.
The Reserve Bank had cut rate in April by 50 basis points to 8 percent but the central bank left the benchmark interest rates unchanged in its first quarter credit policy review in July despite pressure from the industry, which wants reduction in interest rates to spur growth.
Subbarao refused to comment when asked if there will be a change in interest rates when the central bank reviews its policy on 17th September.
"Inflation hurts the poor the most. We have to listen to the silent voice of the poor. They do not have a mechanism for articulating their demand for bringing down inflation.
"So even as we listen to demand of potential investors for low interest rate regime, we also need to be sensitive to the burden of the poor because of high inflation," he said.
He said the structural food inflation is a "problem of success". "As India grew, benefits of growth are going to lower income groups," which are eating better.
While oil and commodity prices have softened in the recent months worldwide, India has not had the full benefit of this softening because of the rupee depreciation, he added.
The Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council had pegged GDP growth for the current financial year at 6.7%.
Industrial production recorded a dismal growth of 2.4% in May and the overall economic growth slowed to nine-year low of 6.5% in 2011-12.
Subbarao said while part of the growth moderation is because of the global slowdown, domestic factors like the tight monetary policy, high interest rate regime, infrastructure bottlenecks, slow clearances of projects, host of governance issues and decline in sentiment of potential
He said fiscal deficit in India is also high and that is putting pressure on demand and inflation.
The Current Account Deficit was 4.2% of GDP last year, which was a quite high.
"One of the dilemmas in managing capital account is that we have to run a fairly stable regime. We cannot be fickle- minded in terms of policy. It cannot be that we allow capital today and disallow it tomorrow," he said.
Potential foreign investors have to have confidence that India has a stable, predictable, transparent capital sector regime," he said.
Subbarao sought to allay concerns that the investment climate in India is losing its attractiveness among foreign investors, saying the country still has an investor friendly environment with the central and state governments anxious to attract investments.
"India has to run a stable policy regime and have a stable taxation and investment regime," he said in response to a question on what India should be doing to inspire trust and confidence of investors.
"We need to streamline our foreign investment policy and procedures, improve infrastructure, improve our governance," to make the system more friendly for investors, he added.
He said his recommendation to the government will be to "embark on credible fiscal consolidation, as fiscal deficits are bad since they exacerbate inflationary pressures".


Environment Ministry asks two mines to shut operations in Goa

MoEF asked Gangadhar Narsinghdas Agrawal and Pandurang Timblo Industries, which were operating close to Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, to shut their operations immediately 

Panaji: Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has directed two mines operating close to Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary in Goa to stop their operations, reports PTI.
The MOEF order has observed that both the mines -- Gangadhar Narsinghdas Agrawal and Pandurang Timblo Industries, had no clearance from the National Board for Wildlife as both these mining leases operate within 10 kms away from the wildlife sanctuary.
MoEF director PB Rastogi has asked both the mines to shut their operations for violating section 5 of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
Rastogi has asked the units to henceforth stop all the project activities with immediate effect and the compliance of the directions should be reported within 15 days from the date of issue of this direction.
The directions from MoEF came after its regional office, based at Bangalore, inspected the mining leases and found them not to be implementing various conditions and environmental safeguards.
The mining lease holders had even submitted their reply to the MoEF, but the ministry was not satisfied as the mine owners had not obtained the requisite clearance from the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife as was required to be obtained pursuant to the order of the Supreme Court dated 4 December 2006.


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