Jewellers call off strike after 42 days

Associations of jewellery manufacturers across the country have called off their 42-day-old strike with jewellery shops opening in most states today (Wednesday).

The development comes after a meeting of representatives of various jewellers' associations with senior ministers in New Delhi on Tuesday night.

Jewellers in Maharashtra said they will temporarily call off their strike for 10 days, from 14 to 24 April.

The government, in the union budget for 2016-17, had proposed a 1 per cent excise duty on jewellery without input credit or 12.5 per cent with input tax credit, excluding silver other than those studded with diamonds and precious stones.

The jewellers have suggested that since the government is bent on imposing the levy, it may be shifted to import duty rather than imposing it on manufacturing.

The jewellers are reported to have met union minister Piyush Goyal in Delhi with their demands, which include paying additional 1 per cent tax on VAT instead of excise duty, exemption from maintenance of extra register and keeping details of each item, tax exemption for remake of old jewellery and no inspection raj.

Jewellers in Maharashtra say they have temporarily halted the strike in the state from April 14 to 24, adding that any decision to continue the agitation ewould depend on the government's decision.

Jewellers have been on a strike since 2 March over the 1 per cent excise duty impost.

The daily sales of jewellery in Maharashtra cold by anywhere near Rs250 crore and a 40-day strike would have cost the industry in the state anywhere near Rs250 crore, which add up to a whopping loss of Rs10,000 crore in the state alone.

Over 300 associations comprising over 3 lakh manufacturers, retainers, wholesalers, artisans among others, participated in the stir across the country.

As an alternative to the excise duty, the jewellers said the government can increase the customs duty by 1 or 2 per cent.