Smugglers taking advantage of baggage rules
Golam Mostafa Jibon: A powerful syndicate is smuggling gold to the neighboring countries including India after bringing from abroad taking the advantage of baggage rules. As a result, the government is being deprived of earning huge amount revenue. On the other hand, the gold or foreign revenue is going out putting the country’s economy at a stale.
Though, several opportunities were given by the government to increase the import of the gold in legal manner, the gold trade in the country is still depending on smuggling due to different loopholes of the laws.
Meanwhile, a powerful syndicate of the gold smugglers has established carrier battalion with the aim to bring gold to the country legally under baggage rules from abroad by using several airports.
Sources said, gold smuggling is not reducing at all even after expanding opportunities to import it legally. Gold bars are being recovered in the country almost every day during smuggling to neighboring country India. Customs intelligence and law enforcers believe that, the measure of gold smuggling is higher than the seize.
Hundreds of gangs are controlling the country’s illegal gold market. There are allegations that some unscrupulous officials and employees of Shahjalal International Airpor in Dhaka, Shah Amanat Airport in Chattogram and Osmani International Airport in Sylhet and members of law enforcement agencies are in cahoots with these groups. Several government agencies including the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Department have already compiled a list of gold smugglers. It is learned that, the names of many influential people have come up in the list. Even if each gold bar is brought with duty, the average price at Tk 10,000 is lesser than the market price. After adding alloy to the gold bar, the value addition is more.
For this reason, gold traders are choosing passengers to carry or bring gold bars. This is why, the risk is much lower in the case of bringing gold bars through returning passengers with revenue to the government, even if there is an additional cost of duty. The number of gold bars being brought legally under the baggage rule through passengers is increasing now.
Under the baggage rule, a passenger can legally bring a maximum of 20 Bhori of gold or two gold bars by paying duty. For this, one has to pay a tax of Tk 2,000 per Bhori (11.664 grams). Besides, any passenger is allowed to bring gold ornaments weighing highest 100 grams (about eight and a half Bhori) outside the gold bar free of duty. Under this rule, the syndicate is providing the gold to the workers or any other passenger coming from abroad. After coming to the country and passing the customs barrier, the gold is going to the hands of the syndicate. Thus gold is coming to the country now and then being smuggled to neighboring country India through illegal routes. Consequently, the traders are losing interest to import gold in legal way.
It is learned that only two companies have imported 25 Kg of gold in the last one year under the policy. A few more companies have opened LCs for imports. The expatriates brought 43 times more gold in a month through Chattogram Airport than the amount of gold imported by the traders in one year.
According to the Gold Policy, the country has an annual demand of 20,000 to 40,000 Kg of gold.
Bangladesh Jewelery Association sources said, the demand for gold in the country is 21 mound per year.
According to the source, less than 1,000 Kg of gold is imported under the baggage rule. Occasionally the amount increases. An average of 2,000 Kg of gold is seized while smuggling. Apart from this, at least 43 times more gold is being smuggled. In this case, Bangladesh is being used as transit. The amount of legal import is very low.
The concerned people said, the gold market of the country is almost entirely dependent on smuggling. Because the gold that comes in a legal way will not meet the demand of country.
Dewan Aminul Islam, former general secretary of the Bangladesh Jewelery Association said, “It would be positive, if the gold imports increased in legal manner. The government would be able to earn revenue from this. A business friendly environment would also be maintained. Unequal competition would be reduced.”
Dileep Kumar Agarwala, general secretary of the Bangladesh Jewelery Association and managing director of Diamond World said, the reason behind the rising of gold bar import is mainly baggage rule. The gold bars are being brought by the passengers in the name of making their own ornaments. Besides, many are bringing gold bars in the hope of making a profit when returning from abroad. After bringing, they are selling those in local Jewelries. Expatriate Bangladeshis brought a large quantity of gold bars from the Middle East under the baggage rule during Corona Pandemic through Sylhet and Chattogram Airports, sources said.
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