New Delhi: Jewellers in several parts of India on Saturday went on a three-day strike against the increased excise duty on gold announced by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in Union budget for 2012-13.
The All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation (AIGFTF) called for the strike against the one percent increase in excise duty over gold.
Jewellery shops in most parts of the country were shut in observance of the strike.
Jewellers from the well-known Dariba Kalan market, in New Delhi, observed the strike showing their dissent against the move.
"We have closed our market for three days and all the gold shops in the country will remain closed. All the jewellers of India will keep their markets closed for three days. We were hoping for some help from the government, but instead they have taken away all the help we had so far. The Inspector Raj, which was finished off twenty years ago, it is being brought back again," said Naresh Das Khanna, the president the local Dariba Sarafa Association of jewellers.
Meanwhile, in Mumbai, jewellers from the famous Zaveri Bazar kept the shutters of their shops down in support of the strike, saying if the government's proposal was implemented then the business of the jewellers would be adversely affected.
"Due to increase in price of gold we have lost many customers. Maybe customers will divert to other things like silver jewellery, other imitations jewellery," said Vikram Jain, a jewellery trader.
The jewellers in the Rajkot too kept their shops closed with an aim to show their discontent over the government's proposal, alleging that the government was trying to promote the multinational companies.
"The excise that has been put on smaller jewellers and artisans will lead to the end of the business. The government has put this law to promote the big multinational companies. The small businessmen will suffer and the multinational companies will come up. Today the government is supporting the multinational companies. Their aim is to root out small businessmen and bring in the big ones," said Bhaiya Bhai, president, Gems and Jewellery Federation.
The jewellers have threatened to go on an indefinite strike if the government failed pay heed to their demand.
Mukherjee, in his budget presentation on Friday, had announced for one percent excise duty on unbranded jewellery and doubling up of customs duty on standard gold bars, gold coins and platinum to four percent.