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Indian Jewelers’ Strike ‘Will Continue Until Excise Duty Scrapped’

Mar 28, 2016 12:10 PM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... Swathes of Indian jewelers are still on strike over a new 1-percent excise duty, it has emerged, as industry bodies continue to protest the tax.

Some 300,000 shopkeepers across India, as well as their staff, have downed tools as part of the action, which is approaching its 30th day.

The news comes despite the president of the India Bullion and Jewellers Association telling press agency Reuters that the strike had ended just over a week ago following a pledge by the government not to “harass” businesses.

“The strike is still continuing across the country. We are in contact with the government,” a spokesperson for the Mumbai-based All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF) told Rapaport News in a telephone interview March 28.

The GJF called off the strike on March 19 after an eight-hour meeting with the government that also involved the India Bullion and Jewellers Association and the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council, the spokesperson said. However, regional associations are still going ahead with the walkout, he added.

“The majority of members want a complete rollback of excise. So the strike will continue until rollback or a mutually agreeable solution,” GJF director Bachhraj Bamalwa said in an email.

Industry bodies have attempted to persuade the government to abolish the tax, with trade leaders resolute that they will not call off the strike until an annulment is achieved.

“As long as the government won’t roll back the excise duty, the strike will continue,” said Rajnish Chopra, a spokesperson for the All India Bullion Jeweller & Swarnkar Federation.

Indian jewelers have been on strike since March 2 after the new tax was unveiled in the budget. The main source of discontent is granting an additional public body, the nation’s excise department, the right to inspect businesses.

A letter from K. Kalimuthu, an under-secretary to the India government, to customs commissioners March 21, requested that customs officers do not arrest or prosecute jewelers until a committee has published its position on the tax.
Tags: All India Bullion Jeweller & Swarnkar Federation, All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation, Excise duty, GJF, IBJA, India, India Bullion and Jewellers Association, Rapaport News, Strike, tax
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