Pranab Mukherjee
he Union Finance Minister, Pranab MukherjeePIB

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Congress party president Sonia Gandhi will meet representatives of jewellery manufacturers from major cities as the strike by jewellery traders entered day 21.

In a bid to persuade the striking traders over the recent hike in the duties, the Finance Minister had been engaging in negotiations with the jewellers. However, the traders refused to settle down for anything less than the rollback of the proposed hikes in duties.

Jewellery trade shops have remained closed in various cities since March 17 after the Finance Minister presented the Union Budget for 2012-13. The budget proposed to hike import duty on gold bars, coins and platinum from 2 to 4 percent and levied 1 percent excise duty on unbranded jewellery.

Since then, several representations have been sent to the Ministry of Finance by jewellery traders seeking reconsideration of this proposal on the ground that the industry is unorganized and fragmented and would find it difficult to comply with the provisions of Central Excise Law.

"Mukherjee has convened a meeting with representatives of jewellery to understand concerns of lamenting traders Mukherjee has called for discussion. manufacturers from major cities on Friday 6th April, 2012 at New Delhi. The concerned associations have been requested to nominate two representatives each for the said meeting," said the Finance Ministry.

Meanwhile, sources said that the government was likely to overturn the proposed hike in duties giving into the protesting jewellers demands.