April 7th, 2012
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Gold shops opened for business ending 21 day strike

goldNew Delhi: Bullion traders and jewellers who called off their 21-day nationwide strike opened their shops today. The strike was called off following the government’s assurance that their demand for rollback of excise duty on non-branded jewellery will be looked into.

Traders are estimated to have lost Rs. 20,000 crore due to the strike, while loss to the exchequer was about Rs. 1,200 crore in revenues. “Most of the jewellery shops in the country have opened this morning,” All India Sarafa Association president Sheel Chand Jain said.

Jewellers, however, have warned the government that they would resume strike if the proposal to levy excise duty of 1 per cent is not withdrawn in the Finance Bill, which is expected to come up before Parliament early next month.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and Congress president Sonia Gandhi met the jewellers protesting against an increase in import duty on gold and excise duty on unbranded jewellery in the Union Budget, yesterday. In the budget, Mukherjee had hiked the import duty on gold bars, coins and platinum from two to four percent and levied one percent excise duty on unbranded jewellery of precious metals (other than silver). This triggered widespread protests by jewellers in various parts of the country; they have been on strike since March 17.

India, the world’s largest gold consumer, imported 967 tonnes of the precious metal in 2011. Gold is the second biggest commodity imported after crude oil, adding to the country’s current account deficit. The government has maintained that the import duty hike has been proposed to cut the country’s imports.


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