Jewellery industry body AIBJSF on Friday decided to continue their strike for an indefinite period against imposition of 1% excise duty on non-silver jewellery and announced plans to hand over keys of their shops to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
All India Bullion, Jewellers, Swarankar Federation (AIBJSF), which had organised a big rally at Ramlila maidan in the national capital on March 17, is continuing their strike, though three major associations — GJF, ABJA and GJEPC — had called off strike last Saturday after government’s assurance that there would be no ‘Inspector Raj’.
AIBJSF and other local associations, particularly those in Delhi- NCR, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, were against calling off the strike.
“Nothing less than a complete roll back of excise duty levied on jewellers is acceptable to us,” AIBJSF President Praveen Goel said in a statement issued by CAIT.
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which is supporting the jewellers protest, has urged the government to initiate the process of dialogue with protesting traders to end the logjam.
In a meeting held today, AIBJSF said representatives of more than 375 Jewellery trade associations from different states “unanimously decided to intensify the strike” till the government rolls back the excise duty.
A large number of jewellers and bullion traders across the country continued their strike for the 24th day on Friday, despite the government constituting a panel to look into their demand.
AIBJSF said it will hold a series of protests beginning next week including “handing over keys of shops to the Finance Minister, blowing whistle in front of buffalo, ringing bells at district headquarters, gherao of MPs and presentation of memorandum, forming of human chain and transfer of registration papers of shops in the name of Finance Minister.” 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.
The government in the Budget for 2016-17 had proposed 1 per cent excise duty on jewellery without input credit or 12.5% with input tax credit on jewellery excluding silver other than studded with diamonds and some other precious stones.