Bullion traders and jewellers today returned to business, suspending their three-week long strike, following the Government’s assurance that it will consider their demand for rollback of excise duty on unbranded jewellery and a hike in import duty on gold.

Various bullion trade associations called off the 21-day strike after meeting the UPA Chairperson, Ms Sonia Gandhi, and the Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, yesterday.

“Most of the jewellery shops in the country have opened this morning as some of the 154 jewellery associations in the country decided to resume business,” the All India Sarafa Association President, Mr Sheel Chand Jain, told PTI.

He said the agitating jewellers and bullion traders would have the first transaction of the financial year 2012-13 today.

Traders are estimated to have lost Rs 20,000 crore due to the strike, while the Government lost nearly Rs 1,200 crore in revenues on account of import duty.

Jewellers, however, have threatened that the strike would resume if the proposal to levy excise duty of one per cent is not withdrawn in the Finance Bill, which is expected to come up before Parliament early next month.

“The strike has been suspended till May 11, as the Finance Minister has assured us on a decision on rollback on excise duty and Customs duty by the first week of May,” Mr Jain said.

The strike from March 17 followed the Budget proposals a day earlier to double gold import duty to 4 per cent and levy of 1 per cent excise duty on unbranded jewellery.

A leading Delhi-based jeweller, Mr Pawan Gupta, said: “We have opened all our showrooms and appreciate Government understanding our concerns on tax hikes.”

Shops in Delhi opened today with gold quoting moderately up at Rs 28,410 per 10 gm from its last close on March 16, but the trading volumes were thin.

“Trading volumes are thin but likely to pick up during the day as all the associate jewellers have been asked to return to their business after the government assurance,” the Delhi Jewellers, and Goldsmith Association President, Mr Ram Avtar Verma, said.

A circular has been sent to all the affiliated members, informing them of the suspension of the strike till May 11, he added.

Meanwhile, the first gold rate came from Chennai, showing a fall of Rs 425 at Rs 28,115 per 10 gm in the opening trade.

A day before jewellers began strike, gold prices in the national capital were at Rs 28,140 per 10 gm and in Mumbai at Rs 27,760.

(This article was published on April 7, 2012)
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