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Indians (INDIA) soon may get a chance to be like Westerners and pretend to own gold - mar - 1, 2005

Dear Crowne Gold Clients:

Yellow Metal to be Traded in Paper Form     

Business Standard, Mumbai
Tuesday, March 01, 2005

http://www.business-standard.com/smartinvestor/storypage.php?
chklogin=N&autono=182101&lselect=1&leftnm=lmnu6&leftindx=6
     
The Union finance minister today announced that the Securities
Exchange Board of India (Sebi) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)
would work out the modalities for mutual funds to float gold-backed
units which would be traded on exchanges.      
      
These Gold Exchange Traded Funds (GETFs) will enable households to
buy and sell gold in units for as little as Rs 100.      
      
In fact, it was Benchmark Mutual Fund which first mooted a scheme of
this sort around three years back but the idea did not find favour
with RBI, as it felt that the prices of gold could be manipulated
and it would destabilise the market. Sebi, incidentally, did not
have any problems with the scheme.      
      
Exchange-traded gold funds are a step in the direction of real
estate funds and other commodity-backed funds.      
      
Ashutosh Bishnoi, chief marketing officer at UTI Mutual Fund,
said, "The necessary mechanism for this has to be put in place.
The first step in this direction should be to securitise gold as an
asset since the funds cannot hold them in physical form."      
      
He pointed out that the tax regime on gold -- sales tax and octroi
-- will have to be amended since that was one of the major
impediments in any gold transaction.      
      
Further, gold depositories also needed to be set up, which will
provide the receipts for such deposits.      
      
According to bullion consultant Bhargava Vaidya of BN Vaidya and
Associates, the commodity can be bought in paper form by investors
in small units, similar to mutual fund units, at wholesale prices
and kept with a depository like State Bank of
India, Nova Scotia, or Mineral and Metal Trading Corp.       

These are fully security-backed and can also be sold to jewellers.
"While import of gold has been liberalised for over 10 years now,
this step is seen to channelise more usage of gold into the
economy," Vaida said.      
      
The ETF route is expected to see a wider acceptance once the varying
sales tax rates in several states is done away with and value-added
tax comes into effect on
April 1, 2005.      
      
Currently, Rajasthan is attracting 75 percent of the Rs 40,000
crore bullion trade as it has implemented a green channel scheme
where the sales tax on bullion trade would be between 3 paise and 10
paise (0.03 percent and 0.1 percent), based on the trader's
turnover.      
      
This is compared with a 1 percent prevailing tax in other states.

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