Downplaying the agitation by the jewellers community over the move to increase excise duty by one percent, Finance Ministry Arun Jaitley said on Thursday that society runs through tax and it is not justified to keep luxury items aside from the same.
“I want to make it clear that when tax imposes on items of common people and the society runs through tax, then it’s not justified to keep luxury items aside from tax,” Jaitley told ETV in an interview.
“I will admit whatever suggestions will be made by the jewelers, artisans and bullion traders. Agitation runs on artificial dream, the country can’t run on basis of it,” he added.
The ongoing strike by the jewellers, bullion traders and artisans in several parts of the country continued for the consecutive 36th day as they continued with their demand of one percent of excise duty rollback on non-silver jewellery.
Most jewellery shops in the country, including in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai were deserted as the strikers declined to call off their strike.
The strike opposing one percent excise duty on gold jewellery has significantly hit demand for the metal in India, with March imports crashing to a new 29-month low of 12 to 15 tonnes.
Such low import values were seen in August-September 2013, when the government had imposed restrictions on inward shipments of gold and the whole market was dealing with policy confusion. In those months, imports were 10-12 tonnes.
The government, in the Budget for 2016-17, had proposed one percent excise duty on jewellery without input credit or 12.5 percent with input tax credit on jewellery excluding silver other than those studded with diamonds and precious stones