7 kg gold ‘smuggled’ every day using migrant carriers

- Manish Gautam, Kathmandu

Jan 31, 2016-

The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority has expressed its concern over the misuse of a facility provided to Nepali international travellers to legally carry 50 grams of gold while entering Nepal.

Every day an estimated 700 migrant workers travel to Nepal. The anti-corruption body believes that most migrant workers are paid a commission to carry gold for racketeers.

The CIAA has alleged that businessmen are using travellers as carriers for importing gold in excesses of 7 kilograms every day. In a review report following an inspection at the Tribhuvan International Airport, the CIAA has expressed its grave concern that the informal channel is being used to import gold by dodging tax.

Each Nepali returning home is permitted to carry 50 gram gold from abroad. With a high inflow of oversees returnees, it is suspected that the market absorbs all the yellow metal that comes this way. Above the permitted limit, Rs420 tax is levied on each additional gram. With this technique, traders can spare payment of Rs21,000 when they use one carrier.

Police officials believe these workers are paid between Rs5,000 and Rs15,000 for ferrying the gold that is collected once they clear the immigration and customs.

On Saturday’s exchange rate, businessmen will have to pay over Rs24,000 less for 50 gram of gold in the Qatari market. By avoiding applicable taxes by using migrant workers, businessmen tend to accrue profits around Rs400,000 on each kg of gold.

Nepal Rastra Bank has warned authorities of this illegal business in the backdrop of falling remittances that might have been used to buy the gold instead of sending the money back home.

“This is a real hard issue to deal with. All of the gold collection is done outside the airport premises and it is hard to keep track of each person brining in gold,” said Deputy Inspector General of Police Bijaya Lal Kayastha, chief of the TIA security. He said they have interrogated and held migrant workers at times in suspicion of gold smuggling but the Customs Department has complained of the police breaching their jurisdiction.

TIA Customs chief Yogendra Gauchan said their duty is to check if the people have exceeded the 50 gram gold limit. “Undue interference by police has often shown us in bad light,” he said. “Only the Department of Revenue Investigation can interrogate these persons on the TIA customs premises.”

Although few arrests have been made in connection with the use of the carriers, recent investigations show that many businessmen have been smuggling gold under the guise of jewellery business.

Manish Lal Pradhan, president of Nepal Gems and Jewellery Association, blames the government’s failure to supply gold as per the demand.

Glittering deal

  •     Each Nepali returning home is permitted to carry 50 gram gold from abroad
  •     Police suspect workers are paid between Rs5,000 and Rs15,000 for ferrying gold
  •     Businessmen earn up to Rs400,000 on each kg gold

 

Published: 31-01-2016 09:13

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