Thursday, June 27, 2019 | ePaper

Gold smuggling route through the country must be blocked

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Two cabin crew members and a private bank official were arrested along with 5.2 kg gold bars in two separate drives at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Monday. They were caught when passing through the green channel after coming from Saudi Arabia. Such incidents of gold smuggling by crew members and passengers have reportedly been increased the recent days. The law enforcers though sometimes arrest a few carriers with bullion; the majority could manage to escape by dodging 'tight security'.
Customs officials suspected that the crew and the bank officers were working as the gold smugglers for months. Last week, Customs officials also held two Chinese citizens for carrying 5.5 kg gold bars worth Tk 2.5 crore in a solar home appliance.
The existing rules allow import of gold, subject to permission from Bangladesh Bank. But in reality, gold has never been imported through legal channels since independence. Between the country's independence and early 2015, 2.2 tonnes of seized illegal gold worth $90 million had been added to the foreign currency reserves.
Country's all international airports have become virtually easy entry points of illegal gold which is later smuggle out of Bangladesh destined to neighbouring India. A lion portion of Indian's annual gold demand (700-800 tonnes) is fulfilled by smuggled gold.
On the other hand, Bangladesh's annual demand for gold is between 20 and 40 tonnes and almost 80 per cent of it is met by smuggled gold. The rest is met by recycled gold that also deprives the government of a huge amount of revenue and creates scope for money laundering and accumulation of black money.   
The Cabinet in last October approved the first-ever gold policy for the country aiming to make import and export of the precious metal easy, stop its smuggling, and ensure transparency in its trade. In the first phase of the policy implementation, there would be no duty on gold imports, just VAT. At every stage of the import and sale, hallmarks on the bars would be mandatory and the ratio of alloys used would be specified.
Country law enforcement agencies shouldn't allow the smugglers for maintaining a regional route for gold smuggling.

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