NEW DELHI: The commerce ministry today said the government is working towards relaxation of curbs on thegold imports.

“We are in the mid of March. We have been in conversation with the Finance (ministry)…surely we are working towards a possibility of relaxation,” Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher told reporters here.

He was replying to a question whether the government is considering to relax gold import restrictions.

Gems and jewellery exporters, who contribute to about 15 per cent of the country’s total shipments, are demanding for the relaxations saying the curbs are impacting the exports.

Gems and jewellery exports dipped 4.18 per cent to USD 3.59 billion in February. During the 11-month period of the fiscal, the shipments declined by 7.15 per cent to USD 35.73 billion.

Gold and silver imports declined 71.4 per cent to USD 1.63 billion in February.

The government had increased customs duty on gold to 10 per cent and banned import of gold coins and medallions, while the RBI linked imports of the metal to exports.

India is the largest importer of gold, which is mainly utilised to meet the demand of the jewellery industry. Imports stood at about 830 tonnes in 2012-13.

Commerce and Industry Ministry has said that over- regulation is encouraging smuggling of the yellow metal. In 2013, the value of gold bars and biscuits seized amounted to Rs 271.15 crore.