Jewellers across the country on Saturday went on a flash strike protesting against the proposed excise duty of one per cent on unbranded precious jewellery and doubling of customs duty on standard gold bars and coins.
The All-India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation had initially decided to go on an indefinite strike but later said that it would be for three days.
The federation said that the representatives of various associations of jewellers would meet finance minister Pranab Mukherjee after Monday to discuss the problems that would arise due to the imposition of excise duty and the hike in Customs duty to 4% proposed in the Budget.
"We will appeal to the finance minister to remove excise duty on both branded and unbranded jewellery and hoping for a positive outcome," GJF Chairman Bachhraj Bamalwa told PTI.
According to reports coming in, nearly 90% of the jewellers in the country have supported the bandh call and kept the shutters down today, he said.
The Union Budget for 2012-13 has proposed excise duty of one per cent on unbranded precious jewellery and doubling of customs duty on standard gold bars, gold coins and platinum to 4%.
Bombay Bullion Association (BBA) has also extended its support to the strike called by GJF saying that the government move could encourage smuggling of gold.
"The Customs duty on gold has been raised to 4% ad valorm which will increase the price per kg to about Rs. 56,000. The total duty per kg would be to the extent of Rs. 1,12,000 which will encourage imports through illegal channels," BBA President Prithiviraj Kothari said.
The levy of excise duty would require huge paper work and the system will be prone to misuse at all levels and give rise to inspector raj, he said.
There are overt 50 lakh artisans employed in bullion and jewellery trade and any disruption would affect them and give rise to law and order problem, he added.
Meanwhile, The Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council said on Saturday that it was still examining the Budget.
"After going through the finer points, we will approach the government by Tuesday or Wednesday and discuss the issue with them," GJEPC Chairman Rajiv Jain said.