The jewellers’ strike today spread to south India,with traders in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry shutting shops even as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is likely to meet the bullion representatives on Friday to sort out the issue relating to increase in taxes.
Meanwhile,around 300 jewellers from Chandigarh,Punjab,Haryana and Himachal Pradesh took out a ‘rickshaw rally’ in Chandigarh and also started a chain hunger strike.
Jewellers in various parts of the country have been on a strike since March 17 to protest a hike in import duty on gold and imposition of excise duty on unbranded jewellery. The tax burden was announced in Mukherjee’s Budget 2012-13 speech.
Bullion traders in a meeting yesterday in Chennai had decided to go on a seven-day strike to protest the increase in taxes.
All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation Chennai Regional Chairman N Anantha Padmanabhan said: “Showrooms across Chennai and Tamil Nadu are also closed from today.
About Rs 600 to Rs 700 crore business in Chennai alone is likely to be affected during the next six days.”
In a meeting of representatives of more than 100 associations held in Mumbai today,it was decided that the agitation will continue till the government agrees to roll back the excise duty and TCS (tax collected at source),All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation Chairman Bachhraj Bamalwa said.
Mumbai Jewellery Association Vice President Kumar Jain said they intend to continue the strike till their demands are met. They have planned a Maha Rally on April 7 in Mumbai,on April 11 in New Delhi.
Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) Chairman S K Goel said: “We have already clarified to all the associations that there is not a case for apprehension. Finance Minister has called a meeting with them. The meeting is likely to take place day-after tomorrow”.