Gold jewellers in the district began a three-day strike on Saturday in protest against the increase in import duty of gold proposed in the Union Budget presented in Lok Sabha on Friday.
The Budget proposes to bring the unbranded gold jewellery under the Central Excise net.
Deduction at source
Another proposal was to deduct tax at source for purchases of gold ornaments for Rs. 2 lakh and above.
Nearly 300 big and medium shops and 1,000 small shops are participating in the strike.
The jewellers in Salem, one of the leading centre for gold and gold ornaments in Tamil Nadu, had unanimously decided to support the nation-wide strike call.
A meeting of Tamil Nadu Jewellers Federation presided over by its former general secretary Sriram, and that of Salem City Gold, Silver and Diamond Traders Association presided over by president R. Singaram, said that these Budget proposals should be rolled back to save the gold industry.
Mr. Sriram and Mr. Singaram said that medium and small traders would be badly hit since it was proposed to impose a 1 per cent Central Excise Duty on unbranded jewellery.
“The industry is still artisan-oriented and many of the jewellers are working from their small houses. These new duties will affect small buyers, mostly the middle and low income groups, who buy the unbranded jewellery,” said a trader.
“These tax proposals will increase the jewellery price by at least Rs.1,000 a sovereign (8 grams),” said a leading jeweler Selvamaligai S. Manickam.
Some of the leading branded shops such as Joy Alukkas and Tanishq remained open.
A senior sales personnel at Joy Alukkas told The Hindu that they had not received any instruction from the association about the strike.