Surat Diamantaires Observed Strike to Protest GST

Surat: The world’s largest diamond cutting and polishing centre in Surat and those in Navsari and Saurashtra observed a shutdown on Saturday to press for exemption of the diamond industry from Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime that will come into force from July 1, reports The Times of India.

The call for shutdown was given by Diamond GST Sangarsh Samiti which has been opposed to GST Council’s decision to implement 3% GST on polished diamonds, 18% on diamond trading and 0.25% on rough diamonds.

Around 4,000 diamond brokers and 3,500 diamond merchants did not work and 3,000 small and medium diamond units remained shut in the diamond hub of Varachha, Mahidharpura and Katargam in the city. Both the diamond markets in Varachha and Mahidhapura were closed as diamond merchants and brokers stayed away from dealing in rough and polished diamonds. Some diamond manufacturing units in Varachha and Katargam were operational, but they stayed away from selling polished diamonds in the market.

Industry experts said suspension of diamond trading in the city on Saturday would result in loss to the tune of over Rs700 crore to the trade. Trading of diamonds in Bhavnagar market was also suspended. Meanwhile, around 1,450 units and 500 brokers in Amreli too joined the bandh.

Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) chairman Praveen Shanker Pandya had on Friday appealed to diamantaires in Surat, Navsari and other cutting centres in Saurashtra not to join the bandh.

Diamond GST Sangarsh Samiti leader Jeram Kalasia said, “All diamond brokers and merchants joined the bandh. The diamond trading was suspended on Saturday. All the small and medium diamond units were closed, while the big units functioned normally. We have asked GJEPC and Surat Diamond Association (SDA) to strongly represent for exemption of diamond industry from GST as it would otherwise make it difficult for small diamantaires.”

Surat Diamond Association (SDA) president Dinesh Navadia said, “The SDA had supported the bandh call given by the sangharsh samiti. We will be representing the issue before the GST Council on June 18.”

Lalit Thummar, leader of Amreli diamond industry, said, “The diamond units and diamond trading remained shut in Amreli on Saturday to support the bandh call given by Diamond GST Sangarsh Samiti in Surat. The GST will ruin small traders and manufacturers.”