Jewelers end 18-days strike; sector loses Rs 25k cr

Jewelers on Saturday ended their 18-day old strike against the proposed excise duty on non-silver jewelry after the government assuaged their fears regarding “inspector raj” and revival of the regime of the erstwhile Gold control Act.

Prominent jewelry associations such as the All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF), the India Bullion and Jewellers Association (IBBJ), and the Gems Jewellery Export Promotion Council called off the strike a day after meeting Finance Minister Arun Jaitley regarding the 1 per cent excise duty proposed on jewelry in 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. After long deliberations, all associations agreed to call off the stir,” GJF chairman Sreedhar G.V. told PTI in Mumbai.

The 18-day strike, in which over 3 lakh jewelers participated, has reportedly cost a loss of more than Rs 25,000 crore to the gems and jewelry sector. They resisted the mandatory mention of PAN by customers for transactions of Rs 2 lakh and above.

In its meeting with jewelers, the government clarified on Friday that artisans and job-workers are not covered within the ambit of the excise duty that imposed on the articles of jewelry with simplified procedures. Budget 2016-17 had imposed a nominal excise duty of 1 per cent (without input tax credit) and 12.5 per cent (with input tax credit).

The jewelers’ delegation wanted to know whether the re-imposition of levy revives the regime of the erstwhile Gold control Act which often lead to harassment of jewelers, especially artisans and small goldsmiths.

The industry had also expressed concern over the fears of resuscitation of the days of Inspector Raj. Besides, it wanted a few clarifications from the Finance Minister.

In its interaction with the delegates, government officials said that in the case of jewelry manufactured on a job-work basis, the liability to take registration, pay duty, and file return is on the principal manufacturer and not on the job worker.

Further, exemption from excise duty up to the clearance limit of Rs 6 crore is available to a jewelry manufacturer if his aggregate value of domestic clearances is less than Rs 12 crore in the preceding financial year.

Artisans and job-workers are not covered within the ambit of this duty and thus they are not required to take registration, pay duty, file returns, and maintain any books of account, said the release.

A jewelry manufacturer with a turnover less than Rs 12 crore during the preceding financial year and less than Rs 6 crore in the current financial year is not required to take registration and file return.

Application for excise registration as well as returns can be filled online.

Directions have been issued to the field formations to provide hassle-free registration within two working days. There will be no post-registration physical verification of the jeweler’s premises.

There is no requirement of declaring pre-Budget stocks. Directions have also been issued barring any visits to the jeweler’s premises.

The jeweler’s private records or his records for state VAT or for the Bureau of Indian Standards (in the case of hallmarked jewelry) would be accepted for all Central Excise purposes, the release said.