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"Need to bring back strong room treasures "

Posted on Dec 13, 06:18PM | IBNS

While stressing the need to bring an estimated Rs.10 trillion reportedly locked up in the strong rooms and inaccessible underground vaults of various religious places by way of bullion or artifacts and precious stones, the apex industry body ASSOCHAM has proposed issuance of 'quasi-currency against such treasures to the owners/trustees by remonitizing them.

In a note submitted to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Finance Ministry, chamber Secretary General D S Rawat has suggested formation of National Policy to induct the locked up wealth in to the economy for building infrastructure.

He further said RBI should also examine the possibility of Investments by way of Special Bonds against the security of such treasures-to be deployed under the close supervision of RBI and Government of India.

To evolve and implement a mechanism, legally and economically sound whereby such treasures can be preserved intact and at the same time put to proper and profitable use without the possibilities of corrupt dealings, alienation, dilution of ownership and benefits and erosion or wastage of value, he suggested.

Rawat said ASSOCHAM has taken up the curdles to suggest to the authorities to realize the significance of such huge wealth that lies out of the economic activity and could be a big source of capital for the capital deficit country.

ASSOCHAM said "ways and means" be explored to utilize the treasures like 'Travancore Temple Treasure' for the good of the Indian Economy without affecting the question of ownership, trusteeship or primary beneficiaries within the existing legal framework. However, if need be, drafting of a fresh acceptable and viable model to address the issues so that such huge treasures lying idle and unused could be brought into the system.

Reported value of Travancore Treasures is estimated at Rs 1 lakh Crores-almost 1.2pc of the current GDP of the country.

Indeed, about 2.5pc of total outstanding of the bank credit and more than 10pc of the total currency notes in circulation in the country.

ASSOCHAM further said it is reported that the gold hoarded in temples, gurdwaras and other religious places of worship is more than the stock of 557 tons held by RBI.

Gold in the form of ornaments, coins and bullion are deposited by several institutions into Gold Deposit schemes operated by nationalized banks. This is melted and converted into gold bars. However gold in the form of artifacts remain locked up and is a loss for the economy.

Such hoarding of gold is more injurious to the national economy in economic terms as this money gets out of the system/circulation- as good as smuggled, said ASSOCHAM Secretary General.