New Delhi, March 23: A sizeable section of jewellers, bullion traders and artisans continued their strike for the 22nd day today to protest against the proposed 1 per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery, even as the government set up a panel to look into their demand.
Several associations in different parts of the country have been on strike, demanding complete roll-back of the proposed excise duty, said Surinder Kumar Jain, Vice-President All India Sarafa Association. "The government can increase import duty on gold by 1 per cent, instead of imposing excise duty," Jain said.
"We are more concerned about thousands of artisans and small-scale traders," he said. Almost 90 per cent jewellers kept their showrooms shut in Mumbai today. Jewellers in various cities including Jaipur, Ajmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur in Rajasthan, and Ratlam, Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh are also continuing the strike.
However, most of the jewellers in Tamil Nadu, kept the showrooms open today. Meanwhile, the government has constituted a panel under former Chief Economic Advisor Ashok Lahri to look into the demands of jewellers.
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.
Jaitley 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 studded with diamonds and some other precious stones.