The move would help prune the current account deficit, he said.
“There are dumps lying at the Kolar mines, which can produce gold. Indian technology cannot extract (gold) from that. But Australian and Canadian technologies can. We should auction to deploy best technologies in all these mines to save about Rs 2.4 lakh crore in gold imports. It will help strengthen the rupee,” Gadkari said during an interaction at the Idea Exchange programme of The Indian Express.
Gadkari said gold imports placed the second largest burden after crude oil imports on the country’s current account deficit, and stressed the need to enhance domestic production to control the ballooning deficit. “Yes. 100 per cent,” Gadkari replied when asked if he favoured auctioning gold mining to private parties.
His suggestion comes in the backdrop of the BJP’s allegation against the ruling Congress for what it says is creating an artificial “black gold rush” through coal block allotments during UPA-I. The BJP has been demanding the cancellation of the allotments and a fresh auction to maximise revenue for the government.
While the BJP president professed his concern over the weak rupee and the growing current account deficit, he remained defiant on engaging with the government on supporting in Parliament its moves to raise the FDI cap in insurance and allow FDI in pension funds.
Alleging that the UPA government had “betrayed” the opposition on the issue of FDI in retail, Gadkari said he saw no point in engaging with the government on these two issues despite the BJP’s claim of being pro-reform.
“The way they behaved with us, we are not in a mood to engage with them,” Gadkari said, evading a response on the BJP’s position on the merits of the government’s decisions on insurance and pension fund management to help boost the economy.
“Their reform drive is to divert public attention away from corruption. This is a political conspiracy, political tactic. We do not want to become part of their political conspiracy. The issue is not about the merit, but related to politics,” Gadkari added.
The BJP president claimed that the UPA had lost “the credibility, moral authority and numerical majority” to take these decisions after they “betrayed” the opposition and their allies on the issue of FDI in retail. “Let them prove their majority. When they have betrayed, why should we trust them,” he said.