New Delhi: Jewellers called off their 21-day strike on Friday after meeting Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Friday. The jewellers' strike has been called off till Parliament takes a final decision on the excise duty hike on non-branded jewellery and import duty hike on gold.
Sources say the Centre is likely to drop one per cent excise duty on non-branded jewellery. An indication that some of the demands of the jewellers may be met came as Sonia Gandhi assured jewellers that their concerns will be looked into.
"We requested her to give us an assurance that we will get relief. They told us that our problems will be heard. We have not been given a time period," one of the jewellers Jagjit Singh Sahdev said.
The jewellers\' strike has been called off till Parliament takes a final decision on the excise duty hike.
"We today met Sonia Gandhi and requested her to tell the government to roll back excise duty on non-branded jewellery, reduce customs duty and lower TDS on sale of jewellery," All India Swarankar Sangh President Madhukar Chachad said after the meeting. Sonia, he said, "has assured us that she will forward our demands to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee for further action".
Ahead of the meeting of jewellers with Gandhi, the Congress had asked the government to look into the demands of jewellers, who have been agitating for more than a fortnight. "Congress has asked the government to consider the demand of jewellers sympathetically," AICC General Secretary and media department chief Janardhan Dwivedi said.
The jewellers also met Pranab Mukherjee. They said they were happy with the meeting, but Pranab Mukherjee has said that he cannot take any action immediately, so he will take a call later.
Bullion traders and jewellers have been protesting since the presentation of the Budget which had imposed excise duty on non-branded jewellery, raised customs duty on gold and proposed TDS requirement on sale of jewellery.
The jewellers claimed they are more opposed to the method of implementation than the tax itself. The jewellers claim taxation involves cumbersome documentation and small and medium units will find it tough to follow them. The duty could also lead to unnecessary harassment, according to the jewellers.
In the Budget 2012, Pranab had hiked the import duty on gold bars, coins and platinum from two to four per cent and levied one per cent excise duty on non-branded jewellery.