KOZHIKODE: Post-GST, gold smugglers are busy pushing consignments to Kerala as a kg of gold will easily fetch them a profit of `3.5 lakh. Following Intel inputs on a likely spike in bullion smuggling in the coming days on account of Onam, enforcement agencies, mainly, the Customs Air Intelligence Unit(AIU)and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) have heightened their vigil.The tax on gold under GST has increased from 1.2 per cent to 3 per cent which fuelled demand for smuggled gold from jewellers in the state right from July 1, 2017, when the new tax regime came into force.
Officers said demand for the yellow metal in the black market had increased post-GST and DRI had booked seven cases here between July- August. “We have mounted a heightened vigil following inputs the smugglers have revamped their operations to bring in more gold through airports in the country,” said a senior Customs officer.The seized quantity of smuggled gold from airports in Kerala between March 2011 and January 31, 2016, was a staggering 859.83 kg and according to the officer, the seized quantity was just 10 per cent of the smuggled volume.
Former Customs Commissioner K N Raghavan said an increase in margin due to change in the tax structure will fuel gold smuggling. “The GST has added more tax on gold and the smugglers will definitely cash in on this. Above all, the festive season has hiked the demand for gold in the black market,” he said. Customs officers said there has been a sudden spike in the seizure of gold from passengers of international flights and this trend may be linked to the post-GST period.
“The smugglers are trying to cash in on the advantage provided by the lower gold prices in South East Asia and West Asia. A mere 10g of gold bought from Dubai could easily fetch a margin of `3,500 in India,” the officers said. As per records, nearly 30 kg of gold was seized from Karipur International Airport in the last six months.Customs officers said though large chunks of the gold is smuggled into Kerala from the Gulf countries, there are instances where the carriers have arrived from Asean member states like Bangkok(Thailand) and Singapore as well as Colombo(Sri Lanka) Hong Kong and Mauritius.