Stakeholders demand effective mechanism to curb gold smuggling through TIA

- Rajesh Khanal, Kathmandu

Jan 10, 2017-

Stakeholders on Tuesday expressed the need on enforcing effective mechanism on growing gold smuggling through Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). Speaking at Parliamentary Finance Committee meeting they showed the concern on the need to bringing forth the main players than the carriers of the gold smuggling.

The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police on Thursday seized 33 kg of gold from the TIA that had passed undetected through the customs.

A CIB team nabbed Gopal Bahadur Shahi who had landed at the TIA from the UAE in an Air Arabia flight. Shahi was arrested after he had already made his way out of the airport. The seizure of such a huge amount of gold has raised questions over the security situation at the country’s only international airport.

According to the stakeholders, lack of coordination among over 30 government authorities that are present at TIA has led to an increasing smuggling of goods including gold through the entry point, said stakeholders.  Reviewing the security checking, upgrading the technology at the TIA and supervision and management the TIA based staffs have been sought to check the contrabands through the country’s one of the main customs points. 

Deputy Inspector General of Police Nawaraj Silwal, chief of the CIB, said there was a need for effective coordination among the staffers at the TIA along with upgrading security checking and existing technology used for the purpose. “The incident is not only related to the gold smuggling, rather it should be considered in relation to the national security,” Silwal said.

According to Nepal Police, it seized smuggled gold worth Rs300 million in the last fiscal year. The authority confiscated the yellow metal of Rs770 million in 2014-15. In the first five months of this fiscal, contrabands of Rs260 million were seized out of which majority were the smuggled gold and vehicles.

“In most of the cases, the carriers of contrabands are arrested while the main players remain behind the scene,” said Inspector General of Police Upendra Kant Aryal. “In the organised crime like the thriving gold smuggling, there is a need for carrying out in-depth investigation to nab the actual players.”

The involvement of the TIA based staffers has been found in a number of cases of smuggling through TIA customs. There are 37 customs officials working for the TIA customs management. Unlike other government offices where the staffers are transferred in every two years, many customs officials posted at TIA customs office have been working for years just through bribing the high ranking government officers.

Shishir Kumar Dhungana, director general of the Customs Department, said the department was installing whole-body scanner at the TIA customs checking in an investment of Rs119.5 million. According to him, the traditional x-ray machine at TIA customs is unable to detect the goods wrapped in black coloured materials, providing opportunity the smugglers seeking undue advantage of the system. “We have called for tender to install the full imaging device,” he said.

Revenue Secretary Rajan Khanal said the gold smuggling should not be connected with short supply of the yellow metal as the gold being supplied by the banks was enough to meet the demand of the domestic market. “It could also be the impact of the falling remittance which has led to the use of foreign currency in illegal import of gold,” Khanal said.

Published: 10-01-2017 19:56

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