Jewellers to meet Pranab tomorrow

Mumbai: Jewellers, who will meet Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee tomorrow, remained firm over complete rollback of excise duty as their national wide agitation entered the 20th day today, resulting in a revenue loss of over Rs 20,000 crore.

"We want a complete roll back of excise duty and request the Finance Minister not to suggest any alternate solutions. It is very difficult to comply with the legalities of excise and we fear that it will bring back Inspector Raj," All-India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation Chairman Bachhraj Bamalwa said told reporters here.

A 10-15-member delegation will meet the Finance Minister tomorrow in Delhi to discuss this issue, he added. "We are hoping that the Finance Minister will understand our plight and will consider a complete roll back of excise duty. If there is a fall out in the talks we will continue with our agitation," he added.

The agitation has cost the industry a revenue loss of about Rs 20,000 crore and the government has also incurred a direct revenue loss of Rs 700 crore from Customs Duty, he said.

The jewellers have called a Maha Rally on April 7 in Mumbai, on April 11 at Ram Lila Maidan in New Delhi. The industry is also demanding a rollback of Customs Duty to the earlier 2 per cent from the proposed 4 per cent. "The government has increased the customs duty by four times since January. This will create complete chaos in the industry and give rise to illegal trade, smuggling activities and encourage rampant corruption," he said.

Jewellers are also demanding the roll back of TCS (tax collected at source) for purchase of over Rs 2 lakh. "This will give rise to non-receipt buying as it will cost the customers an additional 1 per cent tax," he said. Overall, all these duties will cost the consumers an additional 6.5-7 per cent extra taxes on jewellery purchases.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is the only solution and the jewellers have no problem in following it, he added.

On whether social activist Anna Hazare would lend support to this agitation, he said, "We have not approached him for support. We simply want our demands to be considered and don`t want to politicise the issue." However, GJF has approached leaders of many political parties to seek their support and to raise their voice in Parliament on the issues, Bamalwa added.

The Union Budget for 2012-13 has proposed excise duty of one per cent on unbranded precious jewellery and doubled Customs Duty on standard gold bars, gold coins and platinum to 4 per cent.