Lucknow, March 26 (IANS) With bullion traders across Uttar Pradesh going on an indefinite strike Monday against the service tax proposed by union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on non-branded gold items and jewellery, politicians from all parties rallied behind the traders and assured them of all help.
After a meeting with leaders of the traders late Sunday, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav Monday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mukherjee, drawing their attention to the issues raised by the Uttar Pradesh Bullion Association and make "serious attempts to resolve the issue promptly".
A delegation of the traders who had called on Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav informed IANS that he had assured them to personally take up the issue with Mukherjee and even raise the matter in Lok Sabha.
Lucknow Bullion Traders Association president Ravindra Nath Rastogi told IANS that a delegation led by him had also met former BJP national president Rajnath Singh in Lucknow and that Singh had assured them to "do all that was possible for him" to get them heard.
Later talking to IANS, Rajnath Singh said that the proposal to impose service tax on non-branded gold items would only lead to corruption and black marketing.
"It is simply unacceptable and would be opposed by us at all relevant platforms," he added.
BJP's state president of BJP Surya Pratap Shahi also castigated the union government for the additional "tax burden on bullion traders" and said the party would oppose the move.
Union Coal Minister and senior Congress leader Sriprakash Jaiswal also supported the bullion traders and told a delegation in Kanpur that he would try and facilitate a meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and try to sort out the issue, which is now snowballing into a major issue across Uttar Pradesh.
The UPA government has proposed a two to four percent import fees, which till Jan 16 was just 1 percent. Bullion traders are demanding a roll back and are also calling for scrapping of the proposed TCS (tax collection at source).
Bullion traders allege that the new taxation regime would hit them hard and they would have to cough up more money for gold. The gold per kg rate in international market as of now was Rs.27 lakh and would, after the new tax, cost the bullion traders Rs 28.68 lakh in India.
Traders say they were not running away from paying tax but were ready for a one-time taxation rather than what is being proposed.
Chief convener of the UP Bullion Traders Association Kailash Chandra Jain also told IANS that the new taxation regime would increase gold smuggling across the country.
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