A large number of jewellers and bullion traders continued their strike for the 21st day today to protest against the Budget proposal to impose 1 per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery. Their decision to continue to strike is seen as a set back to the government’s efforts to resolve the issue without rolling back the proposal.
On Monday, the centre had constituted a panel to address the grievances of jewellers.
Most of the jewellers who had reopened their showrooms in confusion yesterday, kept shutters down today at Mumbai’s Zaveri Bazar and several other places, demanding rollback of the proposal.
Bullion markets in Chennai, however, remained open for regular trading.
All India Sarafa Association Vice-President Surinder Kumar Jain said the ongoing strike will go on indefinitely till the government rolls back the proposal.
“We will stick to our demand of rolling back of proposed excise duty completely”, Jain told PTI.
Jewellery houses are closed since March 2 after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget speech on February 29 proposed levying 1 per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery.
“Jewellers will not end their strike till the government withdraws the proposal,” said Hukum Chand Soni, President, M P Sarafa Association.
Jewellers across the country have also been protesting against mandatory quoting of PAN by customers for transaction of Rs 2 lakh and above.
The government yesterday constituted a panel under former Chief Economic Advisor Ashok Lahri to look into the demand of jewellers who are protesting against imposition of 1 per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery items.
The panel, which has been asked to submit its report in 60 days, will look into issues related to compliance procedure for the excise duty, including records to be maintained, forms to be filled, operating procedures and other relevant issues.
The sub-committee of a high-level panel constituted earlier to suggest steps to sort out taxation problems being faced by trade and industry will have three representatives from the industry.
Jaitley had proposed 1 per cent excise duty on jewellery without input credit or 12.5 per cent with input tax credit on jewellery excluding silver other than studded with diamonds and some other precious stones.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Sarafa Association has decided not to celebrate ‘Holi’ this year against the Budget proposal to impose 1 per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery, President Mahesh Chander Jain told PTI in Kanpur.
Late on Saturday, major associations, including All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF), All India Bullion and Jewellers Association (IBJA) and Gems Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) had called off their strike after the government’s assurance that there would be no ‘Inspector Raj’.