Jewellers said their countrywide strike will continue till the levies on unbranded jewellery are lifted.
They have been on strike since March 17. The strike was scheduled to go on till March 31 in the hope that the memoranda submitted to various State governments, Commissioners of Excise, MPs and MLAs would yield results. As nothing came of this, the strike has now been declared an “indefinite” one.
The jewellers on strike account for 80 per cent of jewellery sales in India.
The strike has the backing of about 600 retail and wholesale jewellery associations representing 3 lakh units across the country, said Mr Vinod I. Vadala, President, Mumbai Wholesale Gold Jewellers Association (MWGJA).
“After massive protests across the country, it was expected that the Finance Minister would completely roll back levy of excise on all unbranded jewellery. We have been forced to resort to an indefinite strike,” he said.
Though there are indications that the Finance Minister will roll back the duty, the associations have decided to continue the strike till a firm decision is announced.
On Wednesday, Parliament gave its first stage of approval to the Union Budget after the Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, assured the Rajya Sabha that he would reconsider the proposal to tax unbranded jewellery in the wake of the countrywide demand for its rollback.
He, however, stood firm on the Customs duty hike on gold imports.
The excise levy has caused a serious setback to jewellers who have already seen sales volumes dwindle due to rising gold prices, said Mr Nimesh S. Rathod, Secretary, Mumbai Wholesale Gold Jewellers Association.
“We are disappointed with the Finance Minister's statement of finding an alternative to the levy rather an assurance on rollback of levy. We are not going to call off this strike till removal of the levy,” said Mr Vadala.
Over 800 protest rallies have been held by various jewellery organisations across the country to remove excise duty on both branded and unbranded jewellery, to remove tax deduction on all cash transaction of Rs 2 lakh and above and customs duty on gold imports.
Losing sheen Sellers of unbranded gold jewellery account for 80% of sales The strike has the backing of 600 retail, wholesale jewellery associations The strike to continue till the Govt comes out with a formal announcement on the roll back