New Delhi: The strike by bullion traders and jewellers to protest the proposed increase in import duty on gold and imposition of excise duty on unbranded jewellery entered the 12th day on Wednesday.
Most jewellery houses remained closed ever since the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in his budget proposals on March 16 announced 1 percent levy on unbranded jewellery and doubling of import duty on gold.
Striking associations in different part of the country have collectively decided to go for a complete closure of bullion markets in major as well as small in towns on Friday, said All India Sarafa Association president Sheel Chand Jain.
He said the strike will go on for an indefinite period until the government roll-back the taxes imposed on the bullion trade.
However, bowing to protests by jewellers and demands in Parliament, the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on yesterday hinted at a roll-back of the excise duty on unbranded jewellery but ruled out going back on the hike in import duty on gold and platinum.
"I understand the plight of small jewellers ...I am considering it... the period that will be available from now and (passage of) Finance Bill, I will come out with an acceptable formulation", Mukherjee had said in his reply to the general discussion on the Budget for 2012-13 in the Lok Sabha.
The government has proposed a hike in import duty on gold bars, coins and platinum to 4 percent from 2 percent, after doubling the tax in January. A levy on gold ore, concentrate and so-called dore bars for refining will be doubled to 2 percent and an excise tax on refined gold will climb to 3 percent from 1.5 percent.