Golam Mostafa Jibon: Bulk portion of the gold comingfrom abroad especially from Dubai and Singapore in legal way is being smuggled to neighboring country India through illegal border routes under the nose of authorities concerned due to high demand and price. As a result, country is being deprived of huge amount of revenue regularly.
According to the sources, a Dubai-based syndicate is suspected of being involved in the smuggling. The amount of gold entered into the country in legal way in the last one year was almost double compared to the annual demand of gold in Bangladesh.
The bulk portion of the gold brought into the country in legal ways has been smuggled to the neighboring countries including India due to high rate. The gold entered into the Bangladesh through over 2 lakh passengers by paying relevant taxes. Most of which comes from Dubai. It is learned that, in the last 14 months, about 42 tons (36 lakh Bhori) of gold bars have arrived in the country through the three international airports. Its current market value is about $243 crore, which is about 21,000 crore in Bangladeshi currency. But the annual demand of gold in the country is highest 18 to 20 tons. Most of the gold that came to the country legally came through expatriates. The passengers brought this gold with them when they returned from abroad, insiders said.
According to gold traders and customs intelligence, there is not much demand for gold in Bangladesh. Most of this gold is smuggled to India from Bangladesh. The World Gold Council, a UK-based organization, also says that, a bulk portion of gold smuggled into India goes from Bangladesh. The agency released a report recently titled ‘Bullion Trade: Indian Gold Market Series’. It is said that, about 100 tons of gold is smuggled into India every year. Its sources are Bangladesh, Myanmar and China.
It is known that, when returning from abroad, a passenger can bring gold jewelry up to 100 grams or 8.5 Bhori free of charge. This gold jewelry is usually traded in the country’s market. However, this gold account is not recorded at the airport.
On the other hand, according to the passenger (non-tourist) baggage rules, a passenger can bring 234 grams or 20 Bhori of gold bar after paying duty. In this case, in the fiscal year 2019-20, the government reduced the duty by Tk 1000 and fixed it at Tk 2000 instead of Tk 3000. According to the customs information of the three airports, most of the gold bars are coming from Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. In the 14 months from November 2020 to last December, passengers brought 25.39 lakh Bhori of gold bars through this airport. At the same time, 10.26 lakh Bhori of gold has been brought through Chattogram airport. The Osmani International Airport in Sylhet has been given a six-month account. It can be seen that 7,287Bhori of gold came through this airport.
Data of the three airports revealed that, 80 percent of the gold brought by passengers comes from the UAE. The government has received a duty of Tk 714 crore in 14 months at the rate of Tk 2,000 per Bhori. Chattogram Customs Commissioner Fakhrul Alam said, never before has so much gold come. So demand for gold in the country has not been created. Customs officials said, more gold was coming legally from Dubai. The smugglers’ representatives or agents get Tk 10,000 along with taxes money against bringing of per bar. Passengers easily agree that there is no risk in acting as a carrier. The smugglers’ representatives collected the gold from the passengers after the duty was cleared at the airport. Through the airport, a passenger can legally bring a maximum of 20 Bhori of gold bar paying duty. As seen in the last 14 months, at least 1.78 lakh passengers have brought gold in legal means. Thus, the same passenger has repeatedly brought gold bars, Customs sources said.
According to the source, after analyzing the data of ‘Goods Management’ software used in the customs of the three airports, it was found that one passenger brought gold bars in 20 terms in three months. However, there is no legal impediment.
Meanwhile, no specific information was found about the demand for gold in the country. However, the revised gold policy in 2021 stated that, the country has a demand of 18 tons to 36 tons of new gold per year. However, as the Bangladesh Jewellers’ Association (BAJUS) the demand is 18 to 20 tons. Licensed traders can now import gold bars in the country. Bangladesh Bank has provided licenses to 19 companies as gold import dealers.
According to Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport Customs, in the last one and a half years, eight companies have brought about 116 kg of gold at a cost of Tk 58 crore. About half of it is brought by an organization called Diamond World. Some 11 companies did not import gold.
Dewan Aminul Islam, vice-president of BAJUS said, “Only a small part of the huge amount of gold bars that come through passengers goes to jewelery shops. No big market has been created in the country so far according to the arrival of gold from abroad.
Seeking anonymity, a senior officer of Customs Intelligence said, “We have already beefed up surveillance with a view to stop smuggling. If other law enforcement agencies beef up their monitoring, the proportion of smuggling may reduce in future.”
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