Tax increase triggers gold smuggling spree

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Attempts to smuggle gold into Sri Lanka has increased since the 15% tax on gold was imposed in April, Deputy Director of Customs, Vipula Minuvanpitiya says.

Minuvanpitiya told The Island yesterday that a large number of persons had been caught smuggling gold and three Sri Lankans attempting to smuggle in 22 gold biscuits, worth over 14 million rupees, had been detained by the Customs at BIA between Tuesday (15) night and Wednesday (16) morning.

Two Sri Lankans returning from Singapore and Chennai were detained by the Customs for smuggling in 20 gold biscuits on Tuesday night.

Minuvanpitiya said the passenger from Singapore had been carrying eight gold biscuits and the person returning from Chennai twelve.

"The total value of the biscuits is Rs.13 million, and suspects, aged 32 and 24, are residents of Hambantota," he said.

A 31-year-old resident of Wellampitiya, returning from Mumbai, was arrested by the Customs yesterday (16) when he tried to smuggle in two gold biscuits worth Rs. 1.3 million. "Customs are carrying out further investigations into all the detections," Minuvanpitiya said.

Finance Ministry imposed a 15% tax on gold to halt the rapidly increasing imports that had contributed to the trade deficit and exerted pressure on exchange rates. A Finance Ministry official told media that nearly 8,000 kilos of gold had been imported between January and March 2018. This was equivalent to all imports of the precious metal in 2016.


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