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Tax on gold: AAP throws weight behind traders

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As the jeweller’s strike enters thirteenth day

Jewellers begin caving in, registration starts
The Government has promised that there will be no inspection of jewellers’ premises after registration (Image courtesy: Sorbis / Shutterstock.com)

As the jeweller’s strike enters twelfth day, bullion traders are receiving support from unexpected quarters – the Aam Aadmi Party. The political party, which is currently in power in India’s Capital, has put it’s might behind the striking jewellers, demanding that the Centre roll back on the 1 per cent excise duty on gold jewellery.

The tax had been announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Budget 2016. Bullion traders are holding a protest rally at the Ramlila Maidan in Delhi on March 17.

“BJP when it was in opposition had protested the then imposition of excise duty on gold (jewellery) tooth and nail forcing the UPA government to roll it back. Now, Arun Jaitley in the government has taken this decision,” AAP leader Ashutosh told reporters.

He said the AAP stands by traders across the country on this issue and will throw its weight behind it.

“We will hold protest soon and the traders in Delhi are holding a big rally at Ramlila Maidan on March 17 against this move. And we stand by them with full support,” he said.

Gujarat MPs met traders last week and have promised to take up the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week. A delegation of the MP Sarafa Association Indore is also meeting Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Delhi on Monday to request the Government to roll back the proposed one per cent excise tax on gold.

The proposed tax has had far reaching effects. The Economic Times reported today that the ongoing strike by the jeweller fraternity since March 2 has started taking a toll on the livelihood of craftsmen, about 90 per cent of whom are from West Bengal.

The strike has already cost the community a loss of more than Rs 60,000 crore.

“The budgetary proposal imposing excise duty on non-silver jewellery would harm the trade and affect the livelihood of all artisans and manufacturers,” All India Sarafa Association Vice-President Surinder Kumar Jain was quoted by PTI as saying.

Jewellers are also opposed to mandatory quoting of PAN by customers for transactions of Rs 2 lakh and above.

Finance Minister Arun 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.

Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry has clarified that only jewellers with turnover of more than Rs 12 crore will be liable to pay 1 per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery items.

In 1981 and 2012 too, the Centre had introduced excise duty in the gems and jewellery sector, only to roll back the plan later.