New Delhi: In a first instance of the government allowing an actual user from private sector to import gold directly, Tata Group firm Titan Industries has been given nod to bring the yellow metal from overseas market.

At present, only authorised agencies and public sector units like MMTC are allowed to import gold.

"For the first time, a private player Titan, which is an actual user has been allowed to import gold," a Commerce Ministry official said.

This will open doors to other actual users from the private sector to import gold directly under approval route, the official added.

Titan had approached Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), under the Commerce Ministry, seeking license for direct gold import.

In its application, the company had said it would help in saving one per cent of their operating cost and also it would get good quality gold.

The company would use gold for its watches and jewellery, the official said.

Officials of Titan Industries were not available for comments.

Gold imports in the country have gone up from USD 40 billion in 2010 to USD 58 billion in 2011, a jump of 45 percent while the volume has grown marginally from 963 tonne to 969 tonne in 2011.

This is on account of 30-35 percent increase in gold prices in the last one year.

Meanwhile, the bullion traders and jewellers are protesting the proposed increase in import duty on gold and imposition of excise duty on unbranded jewellery.

The government had proposed a hike in import duty on gold bars, coins and platinum to 4 percent from 2 percent, after doubling the tax in January.

A levy on gold ore, concentrate and so-called dore bars (a semi-pure alloy of gold and silver) for refining will be doubled to 2 percent and an excise tax on refined gold will climb to 3 percent from 1.5 percent.

Traders have warned that imposition of higher levies may lead to a rise in retail gold prices by over six percent, which is seeking to rein in a widening current account-deficit partly fueled by record purchases in 2011.