Jewellery and bullion traders on Friday called off their 21-day strike following a meeting with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and a personal assurance by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee that he would consider their demand for rollback of excise duty on unbranded jewellery when the Finance Bill is taken up for approval in Parliament.
Most of the jewellery shops across the country which have downed the shutters since March 17 are expected to reopen on Saturday.
However, after the meeting with Mr. Mukherjee, the jewellers' association clarified that the agitation was only being suspended and they would go on strike again if the proposal to levy duties on gold and jewellery was not withdrawn. “The strike has been suspended till May 11, as the Minister has assured us of a decision on rollback of excise duty and customs duty by May first week,” said All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation governing board director Dinesh Jain.
Members of the Delhi-based All India Sarafa Association have also agreed to suspend the three-week protest. Representatives of various associations who attended the meeting said Mr. Mukherjee had assured them that their grievance against the levy of one per cent excise duty on unbranded jewellery would be addressed.
Earlier, at the meeting with Ms. Gandhi, “we requested her to tell the government to roll back excise duty on unbranded jewellery, reduce customs duty and lower TDS on sale of jewellery,” All India Swarankar Sangh president Madhukar Chachad said. She “has assured us that she will forward our demands to the Finance Minister for further action,” he said.
Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council Chairman Rajiv Jain hailed Mr. Mukherjee's assurance.