No rollback on jewellery duty, Jaitley tells Lok Sabha

SansadTV Bureau

File photo of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Lok Sabha.

The government stands firm on the proposed 1% excise duty on non-silver jewellery. While replying to the debate on the Finance Bill, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told the Lok Sabha that there won’t be any rollback on the matter.

“Tax will have to be paid. But we will ensure that there is no harassment of jewellers,” Jaitley said.

Justifying his argument for the duty, Jaitley said that the government had already constituted a committee over the issue and parliamentarians could give their suggestions to it so that rules related to it could be simplified.

In sticking to its stand the government rejected demands for a rollback made by ally Shiv Sena among others.

During the discussion Shiv Sena member Arvind Sawant, while pushing for a rollback, said the levy was imposed earlier in 2005 and 2012 but was withdrawn following protest.

“We were the people who opposed it, including the present Prime Minister… It should be rolled back… just like the EPFO decision. There is no ego issue,” Sawant said while accusing the government of making it an “ego” issue.

Jaitley also brushed aside the demand made by Deepender Hooda of Congress for exempting jewellers based in rural areas.

Luxury goods like jewellery cannot be kept out of the purview of the one percent excise duty when the country was moving towards the GST regime, the minister justified.

If Congress is concerned about tax on gold, then it should have decreased the 5 per cent VAT on it in Kerala when it is one per cent in other states, Jaitley said while attacking the Congress.

Jaitley claimed that the government spends over Rs 2.5 lakh crore from its foreign exchange for the import of over 1100 tonnes of gold annually.

Ever since 1% per cent cess was proposed on non-silver jewellery, jewellers have been holding massive protests across India demanding a rollback.

(With inputs from PTI)