NEW DELHI Oct 25 A programme to attract gold
owned by households into a bank deposit scheme to monetise the
precious metal could be ready in weeks, Prime Minister Narendra
Modi said on Sunday, a step aimed at cutting expensive imports.
The scheme would allow people to put their gold into banks
in return for interest payments in an attempt to mobilise
thousands of tonnes of the metal sitting idle in Indian
Indians prize gold as gifts and as a way of storing wealth.
The country consumes nearly 1,000 tonnes of gold every year,
most of it imported, and gold is the second-biggest expense on
the import bill after oil.
In his monthly radio address, Modi said the programme should
be ready before Dhanteras next month, a festival when it is
considered an auspicious period to buy gold.
"Please, don't let your gold be dead money," Modi said.
"Gold is very important for the country. Gold can become an
economic strength for us."
Huge gold imports were blamed for pushing the country's
current account deficit to a record $190 billion in 2013,
prompting the government to hike its duty on imports to 10
percent, an all-time high.
(Reporting By Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)