Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has asked Customs officials to map the relation between rising gold import and the smuggling of the yellow metal.
She said Customs duty on gold did not determine how much was smuggled, and it seemed to have its own “cycle and pattern”.
The remarks came against the backdrop of a substantial quantity of gold seized between April last year and March this year.
During the period, smuggled gold of 833 kg, worth more than Rs 400 crore, was confiscated, according to the latest smuggling report released by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).
“The authorities should find out whether there is a relation between gold import and smuggling and whether there is any pattern emerging in the detection of smuggling. Customs duty does not necessarily determine the extent of smuggling as it seems to have its own ‘cycle and pattern’,” the minister said while unveiling the “Smuggling in India Report 2021-22”.
The report talks of trends in smuggling and commercial fraud, and the DRI’s performance and experience last financial year.
The DRI has seized 3,463 kg of heroin (including the 2,988 kg at Mundra port), 833 kg of gold, and 321 kg of cocaine, among other contraband stuff. The deterrent effect of these is manifold and cannot be quantified, she said.
The minister asked the Customs authorities to do better mapping and take the help of artificial intelligence to understand the smuggling cycle.
India’s gold imports were worth $34.62 billion in 2020-21 and $46.14 billion in 2021-22.
Smuggling went up during the period in which economic activities were unlocked,’ the report said, adding, Myanmar and Bangladesh had emerged as the major transit points of gold smuggled into India.
Further, Sitharaman stressed the increasing level of drug trafficking in India and asked agencies to step up vigilance.