Nepal | September 28, 2020

Silversmiths looking for alternative jobs

Precious metals at record highs as gold hits Rs 103,500 a tola, silver surges to Rs 1,405 per tola

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As the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the global economy investors have turned to the bullion market as a recourse for their investment due to which bullion price has been rising each passing day. With the bullion price skyrocketing in the country too, domestic market has been losing its sheen since quite some time. And this situation has not only hit the traders but also workers employed in the sector who are facing mounting challenges to secure a livelihood.

For instance, Suman Baral, a silversmith living in Imadol of Lalitpur, recently opened a meat shop as he was without any work for almost three months during the lockdown. “Due to the lockdown people did not come to receive their earlier orders and now the increasing price of silver has put a spanner in our works,” he lamented.

“So, instead of remaining idle and taking loans from friends I started the meat shop and though we are not making any profit we have been able to at least earn enough to put bread on the table,” Baral added.

According to him, they were getting work till the time when silver price was on an average of Rs 700 per tola. However, after the price kept rising unabated, orders simply dried out. “Previously, the price used to rise by five rupees or a maximum of Rs 10 per tola. But now it has been surging by Rs 50 and Rs 60 a tola every day,” he said, adding, “The price is unlikely to go down anytime soon so I doubt if we will have any work, hence I decided to set up the meat shop.”

Saroj Sunar, another silversmith from Lalitpur, is also planning to open a grocery store as he has not been getting any work due to the price hike. “It has now become difficult to even survive let alone think about other luxuries,” he said, “The owner has said that work will resume only after the price stars falling which nobody knows when so I am planning to open a grocery store.”

Generally, silversmiths earn Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000 per month as per orders. “Our income depends on our work. The more orders we receive the more we can earn,” Sunar said, adding, “But it’s been almost three months since there has been no order and even those orders that are ready remain in the store as people have not come to receive them.”

Meanwhile, Padam Pandey, proprietor of Padma Jewellery in New Road, believes that the price of silver will not drop to its previous levels.

“The trend is such that once the price goes up it rarely comes down,” he mentioned, adding that even if it does drop it will not go below Rs 1,000 per tola. He added that since the market is facing a downturn, around 95 per cent of shops involved in silver business are still closed.

Pandey further added that traders are in a dilemma on whether or not to provide work to silversmiths. “It is usually during Dashain and Tihar that we have a majority of our sales but this year we are confused whether or not to prepare goods,” he said.

“On one hand we have silversmiths seeking work but on the other we are scared to make any products at the current price because if it drops unexpectedly during the festive season then we will be facing major losses,” he added.

Thus, we have not been doing any work at the moment, Pandey said. He mentioned that there is no exact record of the total loss that the silver market in the country has borne. “Although the silver market has not faced losses as huge as the gold market, the lockdown has hit our business significantly,” he added.

Meanwhile, as per Federation of Nepal Gold and Silver Dealers’ Association, silver price has hit an all-time high today since 2013. Silver was priced at Rs 1,405 per tola today. Prior to this it was in 2013 that silver price had reached Rs 1,350 a tola, which was the earlier highest price. It was priced at Rs 1,345 a tola on Thursday.

Meanwhile, gold price has also reached a new peak of Rs 103,500 per tola going up by Rs 1,000 a tola.

Gold price stood at Rs 102,500 per tola on Thursday.

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