Mangaluru, April 13, 2020: The government instead of diverting or stopping development projects to fund the fight against Coronavirus pandemic, can auction large quantities of smuggled gold seized by Customs department, said former IRS officer G Shreekumar Menon.
The present system of taking possession of smuggled gold is a long drawn process that drags on for years. As most smugglers are carriers and with acquittal being remote, the government should fast track legal formalities with help of an ‘emergency enactment’ and sell the smuggled gold in market, Menon, who had retired as Director General of National Academy of Customs Indirect Taxes and Narcotics (NACIN), explained.
On the quantity of seized gold lying with the Customs department, Menon said that World Gold Council (WGC) had estimated that up to 95 tonnes of gold was smuggled into India in 2018.
But India’s Association of Gold Refineries and Mints is of the opinion that seized quantity is double this estimate, said Menon, who had also served as Registrar of Yenepoya (deemed to be University).
Menon also suggested that the government should allow all the Duty Free Shops to liquidate their stocks of perishable chocolates, cigarettes, tobacco, liquor and perfumes.
As all international flights are non-operational, special orders should be issued to sell all these locally after levying Customs duties, local taxes and a special Covid-19 Cess.
The government also can revive foreign travel tax (FTT) which was withdrawn decades ago.
In 2019, Indian tourists to Thailand crossed over 2 million. Singapore received over 1 million visitors from India and 2 million visited Dubai. Even a nominal levy of Rs 500 can bring in revenue sufficient enough to offset the revenue crunch caused by the Covid-19 crisis.