Oh, how the bankers want to get their hands on India''s ''idle'' gold

Section:

The Telegraph, Calcutta
Monday, March 28, 2005

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1050329/asp/business/story_4546548.asp

NEW DELHI -- The government will announce a comprehensive,
liberalised, and user-friendly gold policy next month,
commerce secretary S.N. Menon said here today.

The policy is likely to help mutual funds and banks invest
in gold and hedge in the commodity futures market.

This is a significant step in developing the domestic gold
market, which was opened up in a limited way in 2003.

During his meeting with the gold committee members of the
Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India
(Assocham), Menon said the new policy will be announced
separately and not as a part of one on foreign trade.

The six-member delegation also discussed issues like
improving the ability of banks to implement the gold-linked
savings scheme.

Finance minister P. Chidambaram had announced in the
budget that he would be asking the market regulator to
permit, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India,
mutual funds to introduce gold exchange-traded funds
with the precious metal as the underlying asset. This will
enable any person to buy and sell gold in units as low as
100 rupees. Such units could be traded in the same
manner as mutual funds.

India is the world's largest user of gold and silver. It
utilises 800 tonnes of gold annually, or about a third of
the total supply mined in the world. The country has
private hoards of 13,000 tonnes of gold. India allowed
futures trading in both gold and silver in 2003, after
more than four decades.

It had banned futures in gold in 1962, after the Indo-China
war, because of the loss of reserves. The National Multi
Commodity Exchange of India gives bullion traders the
option of hedging the risks arising from price fluctuations.
This will now be extended to banks and mutual funds.

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