Govt asks agencies to step up vigil to check gold smuggling

Govt asks agencies to step up vigil to check gold smuggling New Delhi: The government has asked its agencies to step up vigil on international borders to check spurt in gold smuggling, Parliament was informed Thursday.

"Department (Revenue) has issued instructions to all field formations to maintain increased vigil so as to curb smuggling of gold along international borders and to keep a close watch on the trends of smuggling of gold," Finance Minister P Chidambaram said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.

The value of gold seized by customs department at the international borders during the April-October period rose to Rs 50.02 crore, from Rs 15.81 crore during the corresponding period a year ago.

"Specific modus operandi circular has also been issued alerting the field formations against smuggling of plain unbranded gold jewellery by misusing provisions of Free Trade Agreement (FTA)," Chidambaram said.

Cases of gold seizure during the year 2012 include seizure of gold jewellery made from the passengers arriving from abroad and gold seized from importers for misuse of provisions of FTA.

The government has already taken a number of measures to restrict import of gold. It has changed the duty structure on gold from specific rate to ad-valorem and also lowered the limit allowed for passengers to import gold at concessional duty from 10 kg to one kg.

Further, to bring down prices of gold, RBI has advised banks not to grant advances for purchase of gold in any form.

Gold imports in value terms declined by 30.3 percent in the April-September period of this year to USD 20.2 billion.

During the April-September period of 2011, the gold imports had increased by 66 percent to USD 29 billion.

In a separate reply, Minister of State for Finance Namo Narain Meena informed Parliament that India's foreign exchange reserves stood at USD 294.5 billion at the end of November 2012, as against USD 286 billion at the end of May.

PTI