While panic recently gripped the already slowed down Indian economy following media reports on India selling its gold reserves, the country has the 10th largest gold reserves in the world, revealed data released on Friday on the world official gold holdings.
As per the World Gold Council's (WGC) data, India has 618.2 tonnes of the yellow metal as holdings, which is 6.9 per cent of the share held in gold in total foreign reserves. United States (US) has the largest holding with 8133.5 tonnes, followed by Germany with 3366 tonnes and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with 2814 tonnes.
Other countries having more gold holdings than India is Italy with 2451.8 tonnes, France with 2436 tonnes, Russian Federation with 2241.9 tonnes, China: PR Mainland with 1948.3 tonnes, Switzerland with 1040 tonnes and Japan with 765.2 tonnes. World Gold Council is an independent agency tracking and analyzing gold trade globally at the wholesale level.
Last week media reports said India's central bank Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has started trading in gold actively since July. The reports said while the bank bought gold worth $5.1 billion during the period, sold gold worth $1.15 billion. The reports quoted the data from RBI's Weekly Statistical Supplement.
While panic gripped the markets on gold sale news by the Central Bank, RBI denied the gold sale news in a tweet on October 27. "Reports have appeared in certain sections of media that RBI has been selling/ trading in gold of late. It is clarified that RBI has not sold any gold or trading in it". The fluctuation in value depicted in the Weekly Statistical Supplement is due to change in frequency of revaluation from monthly to weekly basis and is based on international prices of gold and exchange rates, the bank clarified.
The central bank's gold reserves are valued at about $27 billion as of October 18. India's Central bank had purchased about 200 tonnes of gold from the IMF in 2009 and that was the biggest purchase when the IMF decided to sell 403.3 tonnes or one-third of its reserves.
The WGC data shows that the largest gold reserve holders in the world have gold as their main foreign reserves - 76.9 per cent for the US, 73 per cent for Germany, Italy with 68.4 per cent and 62.9 per cent for France. Compared to this, India has only 6.9 per cent gold held as total foreign reserves.
Globally, 34,490.44 tonnes of gold is held as reserves and of this, 10776.1 tonnes are in the Euro area and 11437.1 tonnes in the Central Bank Gold Agreement (CBGA) signatory countries, covering gold sales by Eurosystem Central Banks, Sweden and Switzerland.