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2 months for implementing gold jewellery hallmarking enough for MSMEs after multiple extensions: Experts

Ease of Doing Business for MSMEs: The number of assaying and hallmarking centers in the country has increased from 454 to 945 in the last five years. At present, only 30 per cent of Indian gold jewellery is hallmarked while according to World Gold Council, India has around 4 lakh jewellers, of which only 35,879 are BIS certified. 

Ease of Doing Business for MSMEs: More than a two-month period given to manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers of gold jewellery for implementation of mandatory hallmarking without any penalty is sufficient for micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) in the sector, according to industry body India Bullion and Jewellers Association (IBJA). “Two-month time is sufficient for MSMEs to hallmark their products. While the entire South is already selling only hallmark jewellery, the challenge is among businesses in the country’s North. While you have two months to comply with the order but you will be able to sell only hallmark jewellery. Also, considering that the government had recently given the extension twice amid the Covid crisis, the time given now is sufficient,” Prithviraj Kothari, President, IBJA told Financial Express Online.

The government on Tuesday had announced mandatory hallmarking of gold jewellery sold from June 16, 2021 beginning with 256 districts in the country which have assaying and hallmarking centres. However, in order to support businesses with adequate time for hallmarking their stock, the government had decided not to penalize them till the end of August 2021. Hallmarking is a purity certification of precious metals and was voluntary in nature till now. “The timing is now good enough however we would want the hallmarking to be at the point of sale instead of stocks available. This means we should hallmark stock that is being sold by wholesalers or manufacturers to retailers instead of the entire stock. We had proposed this to the government as well,” Saiyam Mehra, Director, Unique Chains and Vice Chairman, All India Gem and Jewellery Domestic Council (GJC) told Financial Express Online.

MSMEs and other businesses in the sector were offered temporary relief last month after the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court had ordered the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to avoid taking any coercive action on jewellers till June 14, 2021, who are not able to comply with mandatory hallmarking regulation by June 1, 2021. The government had announced in November 2019 mandatory hallmarking from January 15, 2021, but the deadline was deferred till June 1 and further till June 15 as jewellers had sought time to shift to hallmarking and register themselves with the BIS amid the pandemic. The writ petition for reprieving jewellers was filed by GJC.

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Apart from allowing jewellers to sell 14, 18, and 22 carats of gold jewellery, the government also allowed hallmarking of an additional 20, 23, and 24 carats of gold on Tuesday. In a statement, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution said that in the last five years, the number of assaying and hallmarking centers in the country has increased from 454 to 945, of which 940 centers are operative while 84 of them have been set up under government subsidy scheme in various districts. Currently, these centres can hallmark 1,500 articles in a day while the annual estimated hallmarking capacity of the centres is 14 crore articles. At present, only 30 per cent of Indian gold jewellery is hallmarked while according to World Gold Council, India has around 4 lakh jewellers, of which only 35,879 are BIS certified.

The hallmarking exercise aims to improve the credibility of gold jewellry and boost customer satisfaction through third-party assurance for the purity of the metal. The ministry said that the move will help to develop India as a leading gold market center in the World. “Unique identity code (UID) code (for traceability of jeweller) will also come into force in some time that will boost transparency and help to attract foreign investment. India is a jewellery manufacturing hub but purity has been an issue,” added Kothari.