Indian Gold Dealers Turn to Akshaya Tritiya after Strike

INDIAN Gold Dealers are turning their attention to this month's Akshaya Tritiya festival, following the end of the strike that followed last month's Union Budget on March 16.

The announcement by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee that the government was doubling the duty on Gold Bullion imports to 4% – as well as extending a sales tax to include unbranded gold jewelry – saw many Gold Dealers in India shut down for three weeks.

Now, however, Gold Dealers who were on strike have reopened their stores, with two weeks to go before the festival of Akshaya Tritiya on April 24.

One of the most important festivals in the Hindu calendar, Akshaya Tritiya is viewed by many as an auspicious day to Buy Gold.

"It is too early to predict the response for this year... [but] we are aggressively preparing to meet the festive rush," says Bangalore Gold Dealer Venkatesh Babu, who is also secretary of the city's Jewellers' Association.

Some Gold Dealers are also expecting to see demand supported by India's wedding season.

"We got calls from customers looking to Buy Gold on Saturday itself," says Kumar Jain, vice president of Mumbai Jewellers' Association. 

"The marriage season is continuing and we are expecting good demand."

There are signs, however, that some customers are looking to cut back on their gold purchases.

"With the increase in taxes, I do not want to purchase bigger pieces of jewelry this season," says one businessman quoted in an Indian press report.

"Instead, I want to look into the option of bullion trading."

One couple, cited in the same report, are considering Buying Gold coins rather than wedding jewelry for their daughters.

Industry insiders predict that Indian imports of gold and silver will be lower this year than they were in 2011.

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