Pranab urges jewellers to call off shutdown
Kolkata, March 31 (IANS) Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Saturday urged jewellers to call off their strike as he is reconsidering the matter of imposing excise duty on unbranded jewellery.
The shutdown by bullion traders and jewellery makers across the country continued for the 15th day, protesting hike in import duty on gold bars and coins, and imposition of excise duty on unbranded jewellery, proposed by Mukherjee in the budget for 2012-13.
Jewellers have kept their shutters down since March 17, the day after the budget announcement, demanding rollback of the excise duty.
"I have received representations from various organisations, state governments and members of Parliament. And in replay to the debate (in Parliament), I told that I am considering the matter and therefore they should not be and need not be on strike," the finance minister told reporters here.
The budget proposed to include unbranded jewellery in the ambit of one per cent excise duty on branded jewellery.
Mukherjee, however, had hinted at a tweak in the excise duty on non-branded jewellery in parliament Tuesday, saying: "I understand the plight of small jewellers and an acceptable solution will be found."
In his Budget proposals, he also doubled the import duty on gold bars and coins to four percent.
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