Jewellers may end month-old strike in ‘next few days’

New Delhi: Jewellers may completely call off their strike in the next few days after the government’s assurance that the Ashok Lahiri committee will consider all their demand, Assocham National Council on Gems & Jewellery Chairman Sankar Sen said today.

“About 60 per cent of the jewellers have already called off the strike. The government is also co-operating, has set up the Ashok Lahiri committee and assured the jewellers that the committee will consider all the demand of the industry. I think that in another day or two, the jewellers may call off the strike,” Sen said at a meeting of the council here.

After keeping their shutters down for almost six weeks against the proposed 1 per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery, a large section of jewellers and bullion traders across the country reopened their shops today.

To address the jewellers’ issues and examine procedural aspects of the levy, the government has constituted a panel under former chief economic advisor Ashok Lahiri. The sub-committee will look into issues related to smooth compliance and hassle-free administration, including records to be maintained, forms to be filled, operating methods and other relevant areas.

The jewellers have gone on a strike since March 2 after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget announced one per cent excise tax on non-silver jewellery.

Sen, who is the MD of Senco Gold jewellery chain and a member of All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation, suggested that the government should simplify laws to ensure ease of doing business in the industry.

“Jewellery industry is a hand-crafted industry, comprising a number of small artisans. So, the rules should allow these daily wages workers to operate without hassle,” he said.

Speaking at the same event, gold refiner MMTC-PAMP MD Rajesh Khosla said the government has imposed excise duty on jewellery to prepare ground for implementation of the GST Act because gold and other jewellery will also be part of the Act.

“The government has assured the industry that there will be no harassment. It seems that now jewellers may call off strike,” Khosla added.

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