Incurred Up To Rs 70,000 Crore Loss In 18-Day Stir: Jewellery Industry

Mumbai: A strike by jewellers that lasted for 18 days before it was called off on Saturday night is estimated to have caused losses of Rs. 60,000-70,000 crore to the industry.

Meanwhile, a three-member committee has been set up to look into issues of jewellers and it would submit a report to the government within two months.

The Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) in a release said that the 18-day stir caused “losses of Rs.60,000-70,000 crore” to the industry.

The decision to call off the strike was taken on Saturday night after the government assured jewellers that there will be no harassment by excise officials and no ‘inspector raj’, Gems and Jewellery Federation chairman Sreedhar G V told PTI.

The decision was taken unanimously by major jewellery associations, including GJF, India Bullion and Jewellers Association (IBJA) and Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council, after they met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday regarding the 1 per cent excise duty proposed on jewellery in the Budget 2016-17.

“It (excise duty) has not been rolled back, but our grievances have been taken care of. The Finance Minister has assured us that there will be no ‘inspector raj’ and we are hopeful of getting a notification in this regard soon. After long deliberations, all associations agreed to call off the stir,” Mr Sreedhar said.

Jewellers were also opposed to the mandatory quoting of PAN by customers for transactions of Rs. 2 lakh and above.

A three-member committee, headed by Economist and former Chief Economic Advisor at the Ministry of Finance and Company Affairs Ashok Lahiri, has been constituted to look into the issues related to Excise duty of the jewellers’ association and trade bodies and to evolve at a solution.

It would submit its report to the government within 60 days, GJEPC said in the release.

During a meeting of various jewellers associations with BJP president Amit Shah, Union Minister Piyush Goyal and others, it was decided that the committee would hold discussions with the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) and various stakeholders of the jewellery sector and find an amicable solution to the issue of excise duty.

“We are thankful to the government for setting up the three-member committee to look into this Excise duty issue, which was causing uneasiness among jewellers, particularly the ‘karigars’ and small jewellery traders,” Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council chairman Praveenshankar Pandya said.

He expressed hope that the committee would be able to find an acceptable solution to the issue in next two months.

The size of the gems and jewellery industry has grown to Rs.3.15 lakh crore and it contributes 3.5 per cent to the GDP even as it is still an unorganised sector which employs 4.5 million skilled workers.