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On day 11, jewellers extend stir till Saturday

Mumbai: The bullion market remained closed for the 11th day today following the strike by traders and jewellers against the Budget proposals to bring them under the Excise duty ambit.

There are also reports from several parts of the country that a section of the jewellers are even extending their protest indefinitely. Meanwhile, the Mumbai Jewellers Association has decided to extend their protest till this Saturday and will decide the future course of action depending on the response they get from the finance ministry.

"We are extending the strike till March 31, as there is no response from the government. We are supported by wholesalers, retailers and manufactures in the state," Mumbai Jewellers Association vice-president Kumar Jain told PTI here.

All-India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation chairman Bachhraj Bamalwa said there were reports from some parts of the country that some jewellers and traders have even decided to go on an indefinite stir.

The Budget has proposed an Excise duty of 1 percent on unbranded precious jewellery and doubled the Customs duty on standard gold bars, gold coins and platinum to 4 percent in an attempt to discourage gold imports as it has been found that gold imports, which topped USD 50 billion this fiscal so far has been one of the main reasons for the rising current account deficit which is set to touch 3.6 percent of the GDP this fiscal.

"We are supporting the strike and are also in constant negotiations with the finance ministry urging the rollback of its duty proposals which will harm the sector," Bamalwa said. He said GJF has submitted a detailed representation to the finance ministry that explains the adverse impact on the trade and the plight of small jewellers involved in it.

"We have been assured by the finance secretary that they will go through the representation and after assessing it they will take a call. We are hoping for a positive response," Bamalwa said. When contacted, the Bombay Bullion Association President Prithiviraj Kothari said the strike was on and will take a call depending on the response from the government.

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