In a letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote that the newly levied 1 per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery was ‘strangulating’ the jewellers in the country.
A day after Kejriwal met a group of Delhi’s jewellers, he wrote to Modi stating, “The jewellery business in our country is world famous. The government should encourage it instead of strangling it with government policies. Levying 1 per cent excising duty is like strangling the jewellery business.”
Kejriwal wrote, “You (Modi) talk of Make in India. The jewellers in our country are strengthening your slogan of ‘Make in India.’ But if the government strangles the businesses and traders in our country with its policies, why will investors from abroad come to Make in India?”
As the chief minister of Gujarat, Kejriwal wrote, Modi had opposed a similar move by the UPA government. There seems to be no difference between the BJP and the Congress in this case, he said.
“This is why people are surprised as to why you are levying the duty now which you were opposed to while in the opposition in 2012. These jewellers are feeling cheated,” Kejriwal said in the letter.
Saddling jewellers with the duty, Kejriwal wrote, would not help the government generate revenue as it would spend a lot more on resources to collect the duty. He added that it would generate no revenue for the government, let corruption thrive, burden the jewellers and nobody will stand to gain anything from imposing the excise duty.
Kejriwal also wrote that jewellers are a peaceful and law-abiding community. “They never come on the streets. They peacefully carry out their business and run their homes. But jewellers across the country are now seen staging protests. This should show how aggrieved they are,” his letter stated.
Jewellers hold rally protesting duty: Thousands of jewellers, bullion traders and artisans Thursday held a mega rally at Ramlila Maidan to protest against the Budget proposal of imposing 1 per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery and vowed to continue their strike indefinitely. In support of the rally, the wholesale market in Delhi also observed a ‘bandh’ as over 7,000 shops remained closed. Members of over 358 associations, consisting of over three lakh manufacturers, retainers, wholesalers and artisans are on strike since March 2.
“Jewellers will continue their strike indefinitely if the government does not roll back its proposal to impose excise duty,” All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation president G V Sreedhar said. He added that instead of imposing excise duty, the government can increase import duty on gold by 1 per cent. “The excise duty was proposed to be imposed in 2005 and 2012, but both times, the government had to roll back,” he said.
with PTI inputs