Increase in gold smuggling has forced India to introduce a new customs forms that passengers arriving into the country need to fill up.
In a new declaration, the Indian Finance Ministry is said to have instructed passengers travelling into the country beginning this March to declare items such as gold, Indian cuurency over 10,000 (approx Dh600) and other prohibited items.
India’s Reserve Bank had last September issued a notification in this regard warning Indian nationals of even imprisonment in case they fail to do so.
The new form - 'Indian Customs Declaration Form' - replaces the existing immigration form, which all Indian passengers entering the country had to fill up.
The new form specifically lists gold and other materials including Indian currency that the passenger needs to fill up. Gold smuggling into India skyrocketed during 2013 as a result of the government’s increase in customs duty.
According to official statistics made available by the World Gold Council’s India official, gold imports declined 63 per cent year-on-year between July and October.
Now compare this with the fact that total gold demand in India continued to boom with 974.8 tonnes in 2013 and reports quoting a Thomson Reuters GFMS Survey estimating that at least 150 tonnes of gold could be illegally imported into the country annually.
However, will the new form in any way help the customs prevent gold smuggling? “At the most it might help them keep tab of how much gold is being legally carried into India. They need to reduce the customs duty and increase the permitted amount,” says Vaidyanathan a Dubai-based banker.
India’s Finance Minister P Chidambaram speaking to media persons after presenting the annual budget for 2014 said the government could look into easing restriction on gold imports into India. "There are pros and cons (on easing gold import curbs), we will weigh them carefully, the goal is to contain the CAD at a level where it can be fully and safely financed," he was quoted in a Reuters report.