April 6th, 2012
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Sonia to meet striking jewellers

New Delhi: The jewellers strike has entered the 21st day. In order to break the deadlock Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and Congress president Sonia Gandhi will meet industry representatives today. Ahead of a meeting with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, jewellers protesting against an increase in import duty on gold and excise duty on unbranded jewellery in the Union Budget, will meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi at 10.30 this morning.

“The meeting has been called to discuss the issue of rollback of excise duties, TCS and customs duties levied in the latest union budget. We shall make all efforts to convince him for ordering a 100% rollback,” All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation (AIGJTF) Chairman Bachhraj Bamalwa said.

The Congress has also issued a statement urging the Central Government it leads to consider the demand of the jewelers “sympathetically.” The meeting with Pranab Mukherjee is scheduled to take place at noon. Mukherjee said he would try to understand the jewellers concerns.

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.

The AIGJTF made two representations to the finance ministry explaining the difficulties encountered by them and sought a complete rollback of the new proposals, prompting Mukherjee to assure that the government would set an “acceptable formula” on these proposals.

“However, Vivek John, Joint Secretary, Tax Research Unit-1 of the ministry has said that the issues raised by us are being examined by the Central Board of Direct Taxes and would be clarified shortly. But this is just a temporary relief and not acceptable to us,” Bamalwa said. Meanwhile sources said that the centre is likely to roll back excise duty hike on gold and non-branded jewellery.




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