India to review gold tax but import duty to stay
The Indian government has said it will review a new tax on unbranded gold jewellery, after 11 days of protests by gold shop owners.
Shops have been closed in some parts of India since the levy was announced in the federal budget on 16 March.
However authorities said they would not budge on an import duty hike from 2% to 4%.
India is the biggest importer of gold in the world.
Gold demand by country
- India - 32%
- Greater China - 20%
- Europe and Russia - 13%
- Middle East and Turkey - 12%
- North America - 8%
- Others 15%
Source: World Gold Council
In 2011 India imported 933 tonnes of gold, according to the World Gold Council.
Prior to the federal budget the government imposed a so called excise duty only on branded jewellery.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Tuesday that the government would reconsider its new 0.3% excise tax on unbranded gold jewellery because it did not want to harass the industry.
However he added that the import duty would stay because Indians were spending "precious foreign exchange" to buy gold.
The high gold imports have weakened the rupee against the major global currencies.