New Delhi: Smuggled gold seizure increased nearly 47 per cent year-on-year in 2022, with Kerala accounting for the maximum quantity of confiscation of the yellow metal, according to government data. Various wings of the government seized 2,383.38 kg of gold in 2021 and 2,154.58 kg in the preceding year.
In the first two months of 2023, as much as 916.37 kg of smuggled gold was seized. To deter the smuggling of gold, Customs field formations and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) keep constant vigil and take operational measures, such as passenger profiling, risk-based interdiction and targeting of cargo consignments, non-intrusive inspection, rummaging of aircraft and coordination with other agencies, the finance ministry had said in a reply to the Rajya Sabha.
Modus operandi circulars related to new modus/methods used by the gold smugglers are issued from time to time, it added. As per the data by the finance ministry, there were as many as 3,982 cases of seizure of gold in 2022 compared to 2,445 in 2021. In Kerala, the gold seizure stood at 755.81 kg in 2022, while it was 586.95 in the preceding year. The number of cases of seizure of gold stood at 1,035 in 2022.
In terms of quantity of gold seized, Kerala was followed by Maharashtra (535.65 kg) and Tamil Nadu (519 kg). The seizure from Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Jammu & Kashmir, Leh & Ladakh stood at 556.69 kg in 2022.
In the last three years, National Investigation Agency (NIA) has conducted investigations and filed charge sheets in three cases of gold smuggling. India is the second largest consumer of gold after China. As per a DRI report for 2021-22, gold smuggling in India is fuelled by the huge demand for gold, combined with import duty on licit import of gold.
The basic Customs Duty rate on gold is 12.5 per cent. Along with the Agricultural Infrastructural Development Cess (AIDC) of 2.5 per cent and IGST rate of 3 per cent applicable to the imports of gold, the overall 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 bar as well as refined gold. In the last five years, the DRI report said imports of gold dore bars made up 30 per cent of the total official imports of the yellow metal in India.