Jewellers keep up pressure, strike spills into 31st day


New Delhi, Apr 1: Jewellers and bullion traders showed no signs of backing down in their protest against imposition of excise levy as the strike entered the 31st day on Friday, with many keeping their shops shut demanding withdrawal of the budgetary proposal.

Many jewellery houses in cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata have been closed since March 2 after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced 1 per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery in the Budget on February 29.   In Mumbai, barring a few branded showrooms, nearly 90 per cent jewellery shops remained shut.

“Customers are certain to face difficulties in coming days in view of the approaching Gudi Padwa festival and the wedding season as there is negligible ready stock of jewellery due to the strike,” said Surinder Kumar Jain, Vice-President of the All India Sarafa Association. Tamil Nadu, however, struck a contrarian note, where most jewellery showrooms were open for regular trading.  The government, in the meantime, has constituted a panel under former chief economic advisor Ashok Lahiri to look into the set of demand of jewellers.

The sub-committee, which has been asked to submit its report in 60 days, will look into issues related to the compliance procedure for the excise duty, including records to be maintained, forms to be filled, operating procedures and other relevant aspects. The government, in the Budget for 2016-17, 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 those studded with diamonds and precious stones.

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