Jewellers divided on stir call off; shops closed in many parts

Jewellers divided on stir call off; shops closed in many parts

Jewellers divided on stir call off; shops closed in many parts

Jewellers are divided on calling off their strike against imposition of excise duty with more than half of the industry continuing with their 20-day old stir demanding rollback of the budget proposal.

Late Saturday, major associations, including All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF), All India Bullion and Jewellers Association (IBJA) and Gems Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) called off strike after government's assurance that there would be no 'Inspector Raj'.

However, local associations, particularly those in Delhi- NCR, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, are against calling off the strike and want rollback of the 1 per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery items.

Some jewellers are seeking written assurance from the government.

Meanwhile, most of jewellers have reopened their showrooms in Tamil Nadu and Pudduchery.
Opposing the withdrawal of strike, All India Sarafa Association Vice-President Surinder Kumar Jain today said the strike in the National Capital will go on for an indefinite period until the government rolls back the excise duty.

Jewellers, bullion traders and artisans are organising 'dharna' at Chandni Chowk to intensify the agitation, he said.

When contacted, GJF past president and director Bachhraj Bamalwa said: "Situation is volatile across the country. About 40 per cent of the shops are open but rest are closed."

Although major associations unanimously decided to call off their strike on Saturday, the member associations and local bodies are demanding complete roll-back, he said, adding that the shops are being forcefully closed.

Besides GJF, IBJA and GJEPC, Bamalwa said the associations from Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra were present in the meeting.

About 40 showrooms of PC Jewellers are open out of total 60 retail outlets.

GJF director Raman P Solanki said, "Most of the associations are waiting for some sort of written assurance from the government in the form of circular or notification to completely call off the strike."

India Bullion and Jewellers Association (IBJA) president Mohit Kamboj said there is some confusion among jewellers in absence of a written assurance by the government.

"We are expecting some kind of government notification or circular anytime, which will assure the industry and the jewellers will open their shops," he added.

Meanwhile, most of the jewellers in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry have reopened their showrooms after assurance that there will be no harassment by excise officials.

"We have opened the showrooms from yesterday. Almost all the showrooms are functioning now," All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation Regional Chairman, N Anantha Padmanabhan said.

Officials at the Madras Jewellers and Diamond Merchants' Association (MJDMA), representing the traders body, said the strike has been withdrawn and the stores were operating "one hundred per cent as we speak".

In this year's Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had proposed one 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.

Yesterday, GJF Chairman Sreedhar G V had said that the decision to call off the strike was taken after the government assured jewellers that there will be no harassment by excise officials and no 'inspector raj'.