Excise duty on unbranded jewellery: TMC slams govt



New Delhi: Arch rivals Trinamool Congress and CPI-M on Friday joined hands in the Rajya Sabha in slamming the Centre for failing to resolve the issue of strike by bullion traders and jewellers against imposition of excise duty on unbranded jewellery.

Raising the issue during the Zero Hour, D Bandopadhyay of Trinamool Congress said prices of gold in India would go up if the strike continues and it will encourage smuggling of the yellow metal, a contention which was also supported by BJP, BSP, BJD and AIADMK members.

"Excise duty hike of 4 per cent has affected traders especially goldsmiths. They are facing problems and had to resort to strike," Bandopadhyay said.

He lamented that "the government has not been able to proactively intervene" to resolve the matter even as 1.5 crore people are involved in the trade.

He said Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee did respond to the issue but his concession is "too little, too late" to resolve it.

Joining him Tapan Sen (CPI-M) charged the government with remaining an "onlooker" as the strike entered the 14th day today.

S S Ahluwalia (BJP) said that goldsmith shops are closed in all cities including Delhi and Mumbai and everyone is suffering. "Gold means security of the country," he said.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla intervened and said the members should wait for the Finance Bill to come as Mukherjee has already promised to "work out modalities".

"We can bring amendment in the Finance Bill...in between you cannot do anything...It has to come through legislative route. Finance Bill is the only way," he said.

PTI