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FM to meet jewellers associations today

New Delhi: Amid widespread protests by bullion traders, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has called a meeting with jewellers` associations today to sort out the issue related to increase in taxes on gold and non-branded jewellery.

"In order to understand jewellers concerns, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has convened a meeting with representatives of jewellery manufacturers from major cities on April 6 at New Delhi," an official statement said.

The government in the Budget for 2012-13 proposed an excise duty of 1 per cent on non-branded jewellery of precious metals (other than silver) and hike in import duty on gold.

The steps have triggered widespread protests by jewellers in various parts of the country and they have been on strike since March 17. The stir on Wednesday spread to south India with traders in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry shutting shops.

The Finance Ministry has received several representations on behalf of the manufacturers of jewellery including artisans and goldsmiths seeking reconsideration of the Budget proposal on the ground that the industry is unorganised and fragmented and would find it difficult to comply with the provisions of Central Excise Law, the statement said.

Earlier in the day, Central Board of Excise and Customs Chairman S K Goel said, "We have already clarified to all the associations that there is not a case for apprehension. The Finance Minister has called a meeting with them."

Last week, the Finance Minister had said the Centre is considering the demand made in different quarters to withdraw one per cent excise duty on non-branded jewellery proposed in 2012-13 Budget.

All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation Chennai Region Chairman N Anantha Padmanabhan said, "…we got an invitation from the Finance Ministry that a meeting has been convened to be chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Friday morning at New Delhi."

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