Seeking to check gold smuggling, the government, on March 6, tightened baggage rules, requiring inbound Indian passengers to provide details such as source of funds for importing the metal as well as their air tickets. According to a Revenue Department circular, the baggage receipt issued by the Customs will now include the engraved serial number on gold bars and the item-wise list of ornaments. “Wherever possible, the field officer, may ascertain the antecedents of such passengers, source for funding for gold as well as duty being paid in the foreign currency, person responsible for booking of tickets, and the like,” it said, adding that the decision is aimed at preventing misuse of the gold import facility.

The Customs apprehend that some unscrupulous elements were smuggling gold by hiring eligible passengers to import gold on their behalf. The norms have been tightened following ‘a spurt in import’ of gold by eligible passengers through various airports in the recent past across the country. Eligible passengers are allowed to import gold up to 1 kg by paying 10 per cent customs duty in foreign currency. Eligible passenger means Persons of Indian Origin or an Indian returning to India after a period of six months of stay abroad.

The government and the Reserve Bank of India had been expressing concern over spurt in gold import following the curbs, which were imposed to reduce the widening current account deficit (CAD). The curbs included higher import duty (10 per cent) and linking the imports to exports under the 20:80 scheme of the RBI.

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