In Mumbai, jewellers divided over strike against hike in excise duty

  • Nachiket Kelkar, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Apr 27, 2016 12:41 IST
Jewellers protest against the proposed hike in excise duty in New Delhi on Monday. (PTI)

Jewellers in the country are a divided lot.

After the 42-day strike against the government’s proposed 1% excise duty was called off on April 12, many went back on a three-day strike from Monday, demanding rollback of proposed levy.

But a section of the jewellers have come forward saying they will not support the strike and keep their shops open in the interest of the consumers.

Some of the leading retail jewellery chains in Mumbai such as Waman Hari Pethe Sons, Jagannath Gangaram Pednekar, Lagu Bandhu and a few others jointly issued advertisements in newspapers stating they are not participating in the strike.

“We don’t support any strike and will keep our shops open throughout the ongoing wedding season,” the jewellers said. They don’t want to lose faith of their loyal customers and see further loss of business.

“We don’t want to inconvenience our customers. We hope the trust that they have placed on us only grows stronger,” they added.

All the jewellers had gone on a strike in March after the finance minister Arun Jaitley announced a 1% excise duty on non-silver jewellery sales in the Budget. The protest is learnt to have caused a loss of over `50,000 crore to the jewellery industry.

Already good business was lost on the auspicious occasion of Gudi Padwa in western India earlier this month as shops were shut. Now with Akshay Tritiya coming up in May, jewellers may be wary of losing further business.

Jewellers say they are not against paying extra but levy of excise will cause lot of difficulties as they will have to maintain lot of paperwork. Government had assured jewellers that it would look into their issues and has constituted a panel under former economic adviser Ashok Lahiri for the same.

The All India Sarafa Association and a few other associations want the government to completely rollback the excise and so the three day strike to put more pressure. However, other associations like the All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF) and India Bullion and Jewellers Association have distanced themselves from the current strike.

“We have had meetings with the government, it has said it will simplify the rules. It has set up a high level committee to look into our demands, so we are not supporting this strike,” said Bachhraj Bamalwa, director at GJF.

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