New Delhi: Gold traders and jewellers, whose pan-India strike continued for the 17th day today, said they would not call off their indefinite strike till the government rolls back one per cent excise duty, but expressed willingness to pay tax in some other form. “We will continue this strike indefinitely as we have no other recourse. If we open our shops, we have to comply with the excise tax, which we will bring back inspector raj and 90 per cent of the industry will be affected,” All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF) Director Ashok Minawala told reporters here. He said, the industry is not tax shy as they pay huge duty of around Rs 30,000 crore every year.
Most jewellery shops and establishments in the country have been on strike since March 2 after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget announced one per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery. Over 358 associations affiliated with GJF, consisting of over three lakh manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and artisans related to the trade are on strike. The size of the gems and jewellery industry has grown to 3.15 lakh crore and contributes 3.5 per cent to the GDP even as it is still an unorganised sector. The government receives revenue of around Rs 31,000 crore by way of Import Duty, VAT, and LBT apart from income tax from the dealers, Minawala said.