Jewellers resume shutdown in Bengal, demand rollback of excise duty

March 29th, 2012 - 12:10 am ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee Kolkata, March 28 (IANS) Jewellers and artisans across West Bengal resumed their indefinite shutdown from Wednesday, demanding rollback of excise duty on unbranded jewellery proposed by union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in the budget for 2012-13.

While jewellers across the country kept their shutters down since March 17, the day after the announcement, jewellery makers of West Bengal continued the strike till Friday following the state government’s intervention.

State Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee Saturday urged Mukherjee to reconsider the budget proposal of increasing basic customs duty on standard gold bars and coins as it would badly affect gold jewellery industry workers.

But jewellers in the state resumed their indefinite shutdown from Wednesday after the union finance minister did not annouce rollback of excise duty imposed on un-branded jewellery and ruled out withdrawal of higher import duty levied on gold.

“We had withdrawn the strike in West Bengal Friday after the government intervened. Partha Chatterjee had urged the finance minister to reconsider the hike in excise duty and customs duty on gold. But Pranab Mukherjee did not listen to it. He even did not announce rollback of the excise duty on unbranded jewellery in his reply during the discussion on budget (in the Lok Sabha),” Swarna Silpa Bachao Committee president Bablu De told IANS.

“The imposition of excise duty on unbranded jewellery will severly affect small gold jewellery traders. It will be very difficult for the small traders to maintain compliance of excise duty as they lack infrastructure for that. We will continue the shutdown until the finance minister announces rollback of the excise duty,” he said.

A one-day shutdown causes about Rs.250 crore business loss in West Bengal.

The budget proposed to include unbranded jewellery in the ambit of one per cent excise duty on branded jewellery.

Mukherjee, however, hinted at a tweak in the excise duty on non-branded jewellery in parliament Tuesday, saying: “I understand the plight of small jewellers and an acceptable solution will be found.”

De said due to the excise duty, many artisans would also be affected as it would hit gold jewellery business.

“Many artisans reside in West Bengal. So I hope that Mr Mukherjee, who is elected from the state, would ultimately withdraw the duty levied on unbranded jewellery,” he said.

“Due to the imposition of excise duty and hike of different duties and taxes, price diffence of 10 gm gold pre-budget and post-budget is already Rs.1,500. It will hurt consumers of gold jewellery,” he added.

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