Complying with the existing regulations, the gold would now be handed over to Bangladesh Bank
The Dhaka Customs House seized 685 kg of smuggled gold worth Tk342 crore in 2019, up by close to 43% from last year, according to the provisional data of the customs department.
In 2018, the quantity of illegal gold held at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport was 480 kg, valued at Tk240 crore.
“Our strict enforcement to curb gold smuggling yielded in the positive, as smugglers now cannot go unnoticed bypassing the customs checking establishments,” Md. Moazzem Hossain, Commissioner at Dhaka Customs House(DCH), told Dhaka Tribune.
Complying with the existing regulations, the gold would now be handed over to Bangladesh Bank (BB), he added.
Moazzem said the gold smuggling trend would be minimized as the Bangladesh Bank (BB) recently enforced the gold policy to facilitate the formal import of bullion.
Sources at the Customs Intelligence Department said in most cases gold was being smuggled into the country from Dubai, Singapore, Oman and Qatar.
A considerable amount of the smuggled gold typically was smuggled again to India from the country through border areas as India held huge demand for the precious metal, a senior customs official said.
“It’s a cross-border racket that has long been involved in smuggling gold and other contraband items,” a top National Board of Revenue official said.
He, however, said the gold smuggling would be contained following the recent gold policy of the BB and issuance of gold dealership licences.
In December last year, the BB approved the first-ever dealership licence for gold import to a private bank and 17 businesses, aiming to stop smuggling and ensure transparency in the trade of the precious metal.
They were given temporary licence for two years.
The annual local demand for gold of the country is around 20 to 40 tons. But nearly 80% of the demand was met by smuggled gold as there was no opportunity to import gold in a legal way, said BB officials.
As a result, the government was losing huge revenue every year from this sector. In this context, the gold import policy was formulated in October last year, they added.
According to BB gold import guidelines, the licencees would be able to import gold from authorized dealers and producers. Besides, they would sell gold to jewellers who would use the metal to make ornaments. In the case of import of gold for export purposes, back-to-back import facility would be offered.
Sources at the DCH alleged that a section of Biman Bangladesh Airlines’ officials were directly involved with the gold smuggling.