Day 30: No end in sight as jewellers continue strike

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Bullion and jewellery traders in several parts of the country, including Delhi and Kolkata, continued their strike for the 30th day on Thursday, demanding a rollback of 1 per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery proposed in the Budget 2016.
Most of the bullion markets and jewellery showrooms remained closed in major cities, Vice-President of the All India Sarafa Association, Surinder Kumar Jain was quoted by PTI as saying.
Bullion markets in Chennai, however, remained open for regular trading.
Meanwhile, the government has constituted a panel under former Chief Economic Advisor Ashok Lahri to look into the demand 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.
Finance Minister Arun 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.
Tata group firm Titan, which sells jewellery under the Tanishq brand, on Thursday said its sales have been hit due to strike despite the fact that it is not participating in the same. Tanshiq spokespersons were quoted by PTI as saying that they had to shut shop in many parts of the country due to agitation.
A statement released by Tanishq read: “The customers walk-ins in the ensuing period have also been poor due to the customer perception that entire industry is on strike due to which the sales performance for the month of March has been affected adversely.”
Tanishq has already been reeling under the losses it suffered in Q4 last year when the Government had made PAN mandatory for all transactions above Rs 2 lakh.
“We are still in the process of estimating the impact of the PAN card rule on our sales and hope to get a better view by Q1 of 2016-17,” the statement further read.
The strike has grown ugly in some parts of the couuntry with the Jinsi Police (Aurangabad) booking members of the Jewellers’ Association for forcing a jewellery shop situated on the busy Jalna Road to down shutters. The jeweller had refused to join the indefinite strike.
Five jewellers sat on a hunger strike in Ludhiana on Thursday, demanding a roll back of the excise duty. Jewellers’ associations have alleged that Government has lost a whopping amount of almost Rs 150 lakh crore (sale/purchase/revenue/taxes, etc) since the onset of the strike.
Meanwhile, navratras are going to begin from April 8 and this is the time when jewellers make brisk business. But if the deadlock continues, the businessmen will suffer huge losses.

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