Apr 02, 2012, 02.46 PM IST | Source: Reuters

Jewellers' strike still on; silver sales poor

Jewellers plan to continue their strike, hurting demand and halting imports of gold and silver in the world's biggest buyer of bullion, an industry body head said on Monday.

Jewellers' strike still on; silver sales poor

Jewellers plan to continue their strike, hurting demand and halting imports of gold and silver in the world's biggest buyer of bullion, an industry body head said on Monday.

"We are still striking... We are expecting to hear from the finance minister in a day or two," said Baccharaj Bamalwa, chairman of All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation.

The strike had started on March 17, a day after the finance minister proposed to double the import duty on gold, an excise duty on unbranded jewellery along with a tax on transactions worth more than Rs 200,000. Imports duty on silver remained unchanged at 6% on value.

"If he rolls back (excise) completely, then the strike will be called off, if he has other things in mind, we will continue with the strike," Bamalwa said.

On March 27, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had agreed to examine demand for removal of excise duty and come out with an "acceptable" solution.

The protests have impacted imports of gold and silver, with gold shipments in the March quarter estimated to have fallen by as much as 55% to 125-150 tonnes.

"There is no business in gold and silver, the whole value chain has shut," said Kumar Jain, vice-president of the Mumbai Jewellers' Association, which groups 10,000 jewellers.

Gold imports for 2012 could fall to their lowest level in two years to 655 tonnes, a Reuters poll showed.

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