Gold buying remains dull amid rising cost of living

Published October 1, 2023
CONSUMERS burdened by rising cost of electricity are selling their gold assets to clear the bills despite the jewellers association not issuing daily rates for the past three weeks. — White Star/file
CONSUMERS burdened by rising cost of electricity are selling their gold assets to clear the bills despite the jewellers association not issuing daily rates for the past three weeks. — White Star/file

KARACHI: As the issuance of daily gold rate by the All Pakistan Gem and Jewellers Association (APGJA) still hangs in the balance for the 18th consecutive day, traders have said gold buying by the families in the ongoing marriage season also remained dull due to consumers’ shrinking buying power and rising cases of gold ornaments snatching.

All Karachi Jewellers Manufacturers Association President Mohammad Haseen Qureishi, while mentioning the rate of Rs202,500 per tola for 24K, said the buyers’ turnout at shops is hardly 25 per cent as jewellery and gold bar buying comes at last in the list of buyers after meeting utility bills and daily household expenses.

He said out of 25pc trading, 10pc buyers prefer low-priced items like rings and chains, while 15pc bring their old jewellery and transform them into new and current designs even compromising on their weight.

Mr Qureishi said gold jewellery sales have been facing a downward trend for the last over one year due to the rising prices of essential items and unbearable utility bills followed by surging gold rates.

The APGJA had suspended issuing daily gold rates since September 13 following a crackdown on the gold mafia and speculators by law enforcement agencies in which five gold dealers were also picked up. However, they were later released unconditionally on assurance by the association’s president Haroon Rasheed Chand.

When asked how consumers express satisfaction in gold transactions in the absence of daily rates, Mr Qureishi said many old and new customers have trust in the shopkeepers. He added that several families arrive at the shops to sell their old gold rings and nose pins to clear inflated power bills.

He said the government should set up an authority comprising senior gold traders to ensure legal trading and keep a vigil on speculative trading and black marketing in the yellow metal.

On Sept 12, the association last released the rate of one tola and 10 grams of 24K gold at Rs 215,000 and Rs184,585, depicting a rise of Rs5,600 and Rs5,058, respectively, from Sept 11 despite a drop of $15 per ounce in world gold rate to $1,911 amid sliding dollar value against the rupee.

On Sept 19, the APGJA president was angry over the rate of Rs217,000-230,000 per tola prevailing in various cities and threatened the traders with dire consequences by exposing the addresses of their houses and shops to the law enforcement agencies in case they continued to deal despite the non-issuance of the official rate.

On Sept 30 (Saturday), different gold traders in Karachi quoted Rs202,000-203,000 per tola for 24k gold, while others did not give any rate. However, they also denied quoting the world market rate on which the domestic prices were adjusted based on current rupee-dollar parity.

Mr Chand did not give a clear answer as to when the association would resume issuing daily rates.

“Old transactions of the last month based on forward trading are being cleared and after their clearance, official daily gold rates will start arriving,” he said, without mentioning at which domestic rate the previous deals are being settled.

On reports that gold trade would also be computerised, he said that “nothing has been done so far, but it will begin after the start of daily rates.” Mr Chand claimed that gold in the world market is now at $1,848 per ounce which was $1,911 when the last rate was issued on Sept 12.

On Thursday, one dollar in the open and interbank markets was at Rs288 and Rs287.75 versus Rs324 and Rs307 on Sept 5, respectively, thus signalling a drop in the landed cost of imported goods.

Consumers are surprised as to why the association is dilly-dallying over the release of daily rates when its president had assured the law enforcement agencies of promoting legal trade, encouraging documentation, bringing physical trading rather than speculative/weekly transactions and daily fixing of market rates on a fair and proper mechanism.

It is also not clear as to why the law enforcement agencies have so far remained silent over the delay in the release of daily rates by the association or more issues still had not been settled.

Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2023

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