Gold imports plunged to over six-year low in March as demand for the yellow metal fell on record domestic prices and a lockdown to contain the rising number of coronavirus cases. India, which is world's second-biggest consumer of the precious metal, recorded a decline of more than 73% in imports last month.
Imports fell to 25 tonne in March compared to 93.24 tonne in corresponding period a year ago.
In value terms, March imports dropped nearly 63% to $1.22 billion, he added. In February, gold imports fell 41% as rise in domestic prices squeezed retail demand. India imported 46 tonne gold in February compared to 77.64 tonne a year earlier.
In March 2020, gold prices rose to their highest at Rs 44,913 per 10 gm and touched a low of Rs 38,592 per 10 gm.
In February, gold rate was the highest on February 24, 2020 at Rs 43,698 per 10 gm and lowest on 40,048 per 10 gm.
The government announced a 21-day countrywide lockdown on March 25 to control the rising number of coronavirus cases in India. The lockdown brought all economic activity to a halt and led to a crash in sentiment across equity, commodity and bullion markets.
Another factor which led to a fall in imports of the precious metal is the hike in import duty on gold coins to 12.5% from 10% in Budget 2020.
The import duty was brought on par with that of bullion. The move came after the demand for bars and coins doubled to 45 tonnes in the December quarter compared to 22 tonnes in the September quarter.
By Aseem Thapliyal