Jewellers fear excise inspector raj

Chennai, March 2: Fearing excise duty inspector raj, around 35,000 jewellery shops in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry have decided to down shutters for three days starting Wednesday, said a senior official of the All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF). The jewellery trade is opposing the one percent excise duty proposed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the 2016-17 union budget proposals he presented in parliament on Monday. "If at all the government wants to increase tax revenue from our industry, then it can hike the value added tax (VAT) or the customs duty instead of levying excise duty," N. Anantha Padmanabhan, GJF zonal chairman (southern region) told IANS on Wednesday. He said the government is not looking at the one percent excise revenue but having a long term outlook of six percent tax rate when the Goods and Services Tax regime comes into play. "There cannot be a Modi (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) in every central government office to ensure discipline, punctuality and enabling ease of doing business. The attitude of the excise officials will remain the same and there will be unnecessary harassment," he added. "We had faced the harassment from excise officials when Gold Control Act was in force," Padmanabhan added. According to him, the increase in customs duty would result in higher smuggling of the yellow metal. "The 10 percent customs duty has already resulted in increased smuggling," he said. He said the government is of the view that gold is bought only by rich class and not by poor or middle class and hence has started taxing jewellery. Padmanabhan said around Rs.600-700 crore worth of business would be impacted across the country due to the strike.