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Import & Smuggling of Gold

  • 08 Dec 2022
  • 4 min read

For Prelims: Import of Gold, Smuggling of Gold, North East Smuggling Route

For Mains: Smuggling of Gold, Role of North East Area in Gold Smuggling

Why in News?

Recently, the Finance Minister of India has said that officials should find out whether there is a correlation between higher gold imports and smuggling, and whether a pattern is emerging in the detection of smuggling.

  • It has been noted that whenever there is a surge in gold imports, gold smuggling also typically goes up.

How much Gold is Smuggled into India?

  • About:
    • According to the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence’s (DRI’s) Smuggling in India Report 2021-22, a total 833 kg of smuggled gold, worth around Rs 500 crore, was confiscated in FY 2021-22.
      • 2020-21 had witnessed a decline in smuggling from the Gulf region because flights were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
    • More than 11 tonnes of gold have been seized in 16,555 smuggling cases at airports across India in the five years ending August 2020.
    • The figures reported was of the gold that was seized, the smuggling that succeeded could be much more than what the agencies confiscated.
    • According to the World Gold Council (WGC), smuggling could increase by 33% to touch 160 tonnes in 2022 compared to the pre-Covid period due to the increase in the import duty on gold to 12.5% from 7.5%.
    • In the last 10 years, Maharashtra has smuggled most of the Gold in India followed by Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
  • North East Smuggling Route:
    • According to the DRI Report, 73% of the gold caught had been brought through Myanmar and Bangladesh.
      • 37% of all the gold seized in FY22 was from Myanmar. 20% of it originated from West Asia.
    • Many international reports suggest that smuggled gold is brought into Myanmar from China through the towns of Ruili and Muse on the Chinese and Myanmarese sides of the border respectively.
      • Muse is located in the Shan State in Northeastern Myanmar and Ruili is in the Dehong Dai Prefecture of Yunnan Province, China.

How much Gold does India Import?

  • Gold imports through official channels, involving a major outflow of foreign exchange, have also been rising.
    • Imports worth Rs 3.44 lakh crore were reported in 2021-22, up from Rs 2.54 lakh crore in 2020-21.
  • According to the World Gold Council, India, the world’s second-biggest gold consumer after China, imports about 900 tonnes of gold a year, consumption in India was 797.3 tonnes in 2021 (Highest in past 5 years).
  • India imports gold dore bar as well as refined gold.
    • In the last five years, imports of gold dore bars made up 30% of the total official imports of the yellow metal in India.

What is the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence?

  • It is India's chief anti-smuggling intelligence, investigations and operations agency.
  • It works under the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), Ministry of Finance.
  • It is headed by a Director General of the rank of Special Secretary to the Government of India.
  • DRI works to secure India's national and economic security by preventing the outright smuggling of firearms, gold, narcotics, fake Indian Currency notes, antiques, wildlife and environmental products.
    • Moreover, it also works to prevent the proliferation of black money, commercial frauds and trade-based money laundering.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.

Source: IE

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