Nearly 3,000 retail jewellery shops in the city and suburbs remained closed on Wednesday emphasising a rollback of the Union budget proposals, particularly the levy of excise duty.

They had downed shutters for the second time this month.

The jewellers' associations in the city had called for the shut-down after a demonstration in the city on Tuesday against the proposals in the Union budget to levy one per cent excise duty on non-branded jewels and increase of customs duty from two per cent to four per cent on gold ornaments.

Jewellers alleged that this would mean maintaining accounts for yet another government agency and threats of harassment. It would be more harmful for goldsmiths and small traders, they opined. The volume of precious metal sold in the city is dipping due to price hike and the levy of more taxes apart from the value added tax, they added.

P. Shakunthala and her daughter, who planned to shop for wedding jewellery on Wednesday at T. Nagar, were surprised to find a banner, announcing a strike, hung at their favourite jewellery shop.

“I didn't know that the shops were shut. I now have to look for another auspicious day and change plans to shop for wedding jewels. I hope the prices don't skyrocket by the time I return for purchase,” said Ms.Shakunthala.

Jayantilal Chalani, president of the Madras Jewellers' and Diamond Merchants Association, said the levy of more tax would add burden to the customers as price of one sovereign comprising eight grams of 22-carat- gold would increase by Rs.800-900.

“We now retain two per cent of the value of gold coin that is exchanged for cash. This will go up by eight per cent as we have to add the tax amount collected from us. The rapport between the jeweller and customer would suffer,” he said.

N. Anantha Padmanabhan, the regional chairman of All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation, saidthe loss of business in the city and suburbs owing to the two-day bandh was nearly Rs.200 crore.

“We want a rollback of the proposals and we are planning to hold demonstration in New Delhi soon,” he said.

Keywords: gold shopsstrike