Pramod Agarwal who heads the Derewala Jewellery group from Jaipur, and Colin Shah, chief executive of Kama Schachter Jewellery, have been elected Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively of the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC).
The two were elected in a seven-day countrywide online election under new guidelines laid down by the Indian government for all export promotion councils. The formal tallying of the electronic votes took place on Friday at the offices of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) and Agarwal and Shah were declared elected by large margins.
Agarwal and Shah were elected after the terms of former Chairman Praveenshankar Pandya and Vice Chairman Russell Mehta had been completed.
Speaking to the media shortly afterwards, Agarwal said his first priority was to work with the government towards achieving taxation reform for the export production industry. He specifically mentioned the issues of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on gold, silver and jewellery.
The incoming Chairman also said that he would push forward with the GJEPC’s existing initiatives like building common facility centres in diamond and gem processing and jewellery manufacturing centres in order to provide small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who he said were the backbone of the industry, with cutting edge technology and services.
Agarwal said that build Brand India would also be a priority for him. In answer to a question, he said he would work with the government towards resolving the taxation issues that had tangled up the direct sales in India of rough diamonds by major mining companies. “Establishing new resources for rough diamonds and gemstones is definitely a priority,” he said.
Vice Chairman-elect Shah said that what he and the new Chairman would focus on would be to enhance the already considerable work done by the GJEPC, with the added dimension of building up a comprehensive digital strategy. “The GJEPC has already done a really considerable amount of work and we need to look at improving all of what has already been initiated,” he said.
Shah said priorities would include improving exhibitions in India and the way the Indian industry participated in trade shows abroad. “We also need to look at international promotions, labour laws and the like,” he added.