10,000 jewellers in Bengal down shutters

Indo Asian News Service

Kolkata, March 31 (IANS) Over 10,000 jewellers in West Bengal downed their shutters on Tuesday in protest against the union budget making PAN number declaration mandatory for gold purchases of Rs.1 lakh and above.

"This move marks a protest from the jewellers in the state as we feel it is unjustified. With more than 10,000 jewellery shops remaining closed, it is estimated that the state government today lost nearly Rs.1 crore and the central government lost Rs.3 crore revenue earning," Bablu Dey of Swarna Shilpo Banchao Committee (Save Gold Trader's Committee) told IANS.

He said the state's loss accounts for the VAT component charged on gold trade while TDS returns on the gold transaction accounted for the central government's losses.

"Every day 250 kg of gold enters West Bengal via the airport from London, Dubai, Switzerland, Malaysia and other locations," he said.

The gold traders' association said while the central government is keen to control black money in the country, it has made a mistake by not changing the import duty on the yellow metal from the existing 10 percent and making PAN (Permanent Account Number) declaration mandatory for purchases of the yellow metal.

"We had asked the government to implement this norm steadily in phases as a sudden imposition would result in chaos," said Dey.

Dey reasoned as only a small proportion of people and companies have a PAN number in a country of 127 crore people, this norm will result in a large section of people resorting to the unorganised market for gold purchases.

"Black money in the country will increase as a result of this move to make PAN declaration mandatory for purchases of and above Rs.one lakh," he said.