Barely five days before Dhanteras, there has been a five to ten per cent dip in gold and diamond jewellery business in the state, claims Mr. Bablu Dey, working president of Swarna Shilpa Bachao Committee.

The gold jewellery industry was previously hit during demonetisation in 2016 and implementation of GST in 2017.

Talking to The Statesman on Wednesday, Mr Bablu Dey said that from Dhanteras the buying spree in the gold jewellery market starts and it continues till the marriage season which lasts till January. “This year so far the business was down but we hope that in the next few days we will pick up the pace. For the third consecutive year, it seems, the industry is passing through a very challenging phase,” he added.

“The price of both gold and petrol depends on the dollar and both are mostly imported. The more the rupee weakens the more the prices of petrol and gold increase in India. Despite the fact that there was a fall of six per cent in gold prices globally, but in India due to the weak valuation of rupee, the price of the precious yellow metal has risen by about nine per cent since the past one year,” Mr Bablu Dey added.

India has the second biggest gold market after China and bullion buying is considered auspicious on the occasions of Dhanteras and Diwali.

This year, the jewellery industry suffered a setback due to the disastrous floods in Kerala ~ the gold hub of the country. Keralites buy the largest chunk of the country’s gold which is about ten to twenty per cent.

The digital gold market in the country is also growing very fast over the past few years and is slowly challenging the physical gold market transactions. The digital gold market in the country is, however, very small, sources said.

“Customers are waiting and watching the present price situation cautiously. The gold price on Wednesday in Kolkata for 22 carat of 10 gram was Rs 31,300 and that of 24-carat gold was Rs 32,950, which is very high compared to the last two years,” he added.

The gold jewellery industry had several times urged the central government to reduce the 10 per cent import duty on gold but no steps were taken, leading to an increase in gold smuggling in the country. It is a country with long borders and if the import duty on gold is decreased considerably, smuggling will also be checked,” felt Dey.

There are several Indian gold jewellery companies which have more gold in their stocks than entire countries like Sweden, Australia and Singapore.

There are about 18,000 gold jewellery shops spread over Kolkata and throughout the state of West Bengal and over 1 crore people are directly and indirectly linked to this business.