New Delhi: The 20-day long strike by the agitating jewellers and bullion traders for removal of excise duty on unbranded jewellery was called off on Friday after their meeting with the Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

All India Swarankar Sangh President Madhukar Chachad told reporters "We today met Sonia Gandhi and requested her to tell the government to roll back excise duty on unbranded jewellery, reduce customs duty and lower TDS on sale of jewellery.”

“Gandhi has assured us that she will forward our demands to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee for further action,” said Chachad.

Bullion traders and jewellers are protesting since the presentation of the Budget which had imposed excise duty on unbranded jewellery, raised customs duty on gold and proposed TDS requirement on sale of jewellery.

Ahead of the meeting of jewellers with Gandhi, the Congress had asked the government to look into the demands of jewellers, who have been agitating for more than a fortnight.

"Congress has asked the government to consider the demand of jewellers sympathetically," AICC General Secretary and media department chief Janardhan Dwivedi said.

The representatives of the jewellery associations have also met Mukherjee on Thursday to press for their demand for removal of duties on gold and unbranded jewellery. They met the Minister again on Friday.

Mukherjee, while replying to a debate on Budget in Lok Sabha last month, had assured the jewellers that he would consider their demands but ruled out reduction in customs duty on gold, which was doubled to 4 per cent.

Various jewellers associations, including Bullion Traders Association, Market Sarafa Association, and diamond traders have been on strike since March 17.

EXCISE DUTY ON JEWELLERY

Mukherjee in his Budget for 2012-13 had imposed 1 per cent excise duty on all unbranded jewellery and doubled the import duty to 4 per cent on gold. He also announced that quoting of PAN card would be mandatory for purchase of jewellery worth more than Rs 2 lakh.

(JPN/Agencies)