Jewellery stores were shut on Wednesday as part of the three-day nationwide strike against the proposed re-imposition of 1 % excise duty and mandatory PAN cards for transactions of Rs 2 lakh and above.
The strike in Gurgaon would incur an estimated loss of Rs 1 crore to the state exchequer.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley proposed the excise duty in his Union budget on Monday. The PAN card rule came into effect on January 1. The strike is aimed at mounting pressure on the government to revoke the norms.
All outlets in Gold Souk -- the only mall in NCR with more than 75 jewellery and diamond shops – were shut. But, business was normal at shops in Old Gurgaon.
Already irked by the PAN card rule, jewellers said the government had added to their woes by planning to re-impose excise duty.
“Business reduced by 30% after the government made PAN cards mandatory for transactions of Rs 2 lakh and above. While we demanded the withdrawal of the rule, the government made our lives difficult by reintroducing 1 % excise duty,” Ashish Goel of Goel Jewellers and a member of the All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF) said. GJF, one of the apex bodies representing jewellers in the country, was part of the strike that began on Wednesday.
Jewellers said they will decide the next step of action after meeting with the union finance ministry.
The PAN card rule impacted a major segment of customers from rural areas because they do not carry the document. Goel said many do not even know what a PAN card is and the government should either revoke the norm or increase the slab.
Ashish Gupta, vice-chairman of Gold Souk Group, said the decision on excise duty and PAN card was a dampener for the already stressed jewellery industry. “All jewellery shops are shut today (Wednesday). It’s a big concern for the jewellers’ fraternity as it is shaken up the dynamics of the industry,” Gupta said.
The government introduced excise duty in 2005 and 2012, but withdrew it after protests. Jewellers also observed a one-day strike against the PAN card rule on February 10.