On Wednesday, prominent jewellers and jewellery shops in Pune did something they probably have never done before: say no to a substantial amount of business. The jewellery sector has been hit hard by the Centre’s decision to discontinue Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, with many stores witnessing barely any transactions. The day after the notes were withdrawn from circulation, these shops were at the receiving end of several phone calls and walk-in customers, who wanted to buy gold in an exchange of cash, particularly Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
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Since the time Chandukaka Saraf opened his jewellery store in the morning, he was inundated with phone calls and queries on whether the store is “accepting Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes for transactions”.
Yogesh Shah, senior manager of Chandukaka Saraf and Sons Pvt Ltd, said, “We held a meeting in the morning when we decided against accepting Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. We received a number of inquiries… customers also asked us if we are allowing transactions with these notes, but we refused. Gold is the easiest and safest buy to utilise a large amount of cash, so many people are rushing to jewellery stores. Though it is a good move by the government, there’s hardly any business because of the current situation. But the situation is expected to stabilise in a few days.”
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Kishor Sandesa, of Krishna Jewellers on Bhau Patil Road, rued the “unique situation”, where customers were willing to buy gold but the jewellery stores couldn’t sell any. “There is no business at all,” he added.
Fatehchand Ranka of Ranka Jewellers, who is also the president of the Maharashtra Rajya Saraf Suvarnakar Federation, said though the move would probably help in curbing the practice of hoarding black money, the government should have given the public at least a week’s time before implementing the policy.
“What kind of a situation is this… banks are closed, ATMs are closed. People can’t buy gold with Rs 100 notes as there aren’t that many in circulation. Though we have kept all our stores open and we are flooded with phone calls, there have been no transactions,” said Ranka.
However, Saurabh Gadgil, CMD of PNG Jewellers and director of India Bullion and Jewellers Association, expressed his support for the government move. “We are an organised retailer and we support this relentless fight against corruption. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision… to run an economy on plastic money… is taking the right course. We welcome the change… like any shift in paradigm, this will take its time to settle down, and India and its economy will emerge stronger than ever…,” he said.