New Delhi: Seizures of smuggled gold are set to increase by nearly 47 per cent year-on-year in 2022, with Kerala seizing the maximum amount of the yellow metal, according to government data. Various branches of the government seized 2,383.38 kg of gold in 2021 and 2,154.58 kg in the previous year.
In the first two months of 2023, 916.37 kg of smuggled gold was seized. To prevent gold smuggling, Customs field officers and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) keep a constant vigil and take operational measures, such as passenger profiling, risk-based restrictions and targeting of cargo consignments, non-intrusive inspections, aircraft and coordination with other agencies, the finance ministry had said in a reply to the Rajya Sabha.
It added that circulars on modus operandi relating to new modus operandi to be used by gold smugglers are issued from time to time. According to Finance Ministry data, there were 3,982 cases of gold seizure in 2022 as compared to 2,445 in 2021. In Kerala, the seizure of gold in 2022 was 755.81 kg, compared to 586.95 in the previous year. The number of gold seizure cases in 2022 stood at 1,035.
In terms of quantity of gold seized, Kerala is followed by Maharashtra (535.65 kg) and Tamil Nadu (519 kg). In 2022, 556.69 kg was seized from Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Leh and Ladakh.
In the last three years, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) investigated and filed charge sheets in three cases of gold smuggling. India is the second largest consumer of gold after China. According to the DRI report for 2021-22, gold smuggling in India has been fueled by high demand for gold as well as import duty on legal imports of gold.
The rate of basic customs duty on gold is 12.5 per cent. With an Agriculture Infrastructure Development Cess (AIDC) of 2.5 per cent applicable on gold imports and an IGST rate of 3 per cent, the total tax rate works out to 18.45 per cent. India being a negligible producer of gold, the huge demand for gold in the country is met through imports. India imports gold dore bars as well as refined gold. In the last five years, the DRI report said that gold dore bar imports in India accounted for 30 per cent of the total official imports of the yellow metal.