It is a pro-customer initiative, they say
Even as a section of small-scale gold merchants remains upset over the latest government order insisting mandatory hallmarking of gold jewellery, the majority of leading traders under the All Kerala Gold and Silver Merchants Association (AKGSMA) have welcomed the Union government’s decision hailing it as a ‘pro-customer initiative’ aimed at ensuring gold purity and fair trade. They claim that the rules which came into effect on June 15 will in no way affect the living of small players in the industry whose annual turnover is below ₹40 lakh.
As of now, there are nearly 4,000 jewellers in Kerala who comply with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) registration and follow the hallmarking procedures. In the wake of the latest order, about 3,000 more traders are also expected to complete the process, according to AKGSMA functionaries. The rule will never throw out traditional players as a plenty of considerate exemptions have been granted in the latest order to protect the smaller segments out of the GST regime, they point out.
“We have a satisfactory number of BIS hallmarking units in almost all districts, except Idukki, to follow the new rule. In Kozhikode district alone, there are 10 such centres considering the increased quantity of sales here,” says K. Surendran, general secretary, AKGSMA. He also points out that an increase in the existing number of hallmarking centres in districts like Kasaragod and Wayanad can be taken up only with a proportionate increase in the quantity of total sales.
According to him, the main reason for AKGSMA to welcome the new move is that it has duly acknowledged all the major demands earlier proposed to protect the interest of traditional entrepreneurs and small-scale units in the sector. “We have no reason to oppose it. There are 256 districts with hallmarking centres to facilitate the process. There is sufficient time for all to cooperate with the guidelines. No penalising action will be taken till August-end as per the government assurance,” he points out.
Meanwhile, the Calicut Bullion Dealers Association says that it will throw a large number of ordinary merchants out of the business. According to them, there should be some effective hand-holding mechanism apart from opening more hallmarking centres to assist the low-profile segment.
“We are not against the hallmarking practice, but there should be more facilities to complete it easily. A rural entrepreneur will never be able to travel a long distance for the hallmarking process alone. The order should not emerge as a tool to throttle the weaker segments,” says P. Sunilkumar, president of the Kammath Lane Gold and Silver Merchants Association functioning under the Calicut Bullion Dealers Association. He also points out that there should be vigil against the attempts to label small entrepreneurs as ‘illegal traders’ while they enjoy the permissible exemptions under the new order.
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