The cabinet committee on economic affairs has endorsed ‘Gold Policy 2018’ keeping provisions for gold import through authorised dealers of Bangladesh Bank.
But since it is an important issue, Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said the final clearance has to come from the cabinet
Following a meeting of the cabinet committee on Wednesday, the finance minister told reporters, “Now we’ll import gold. Until now, it was not imported, but smuggled in the country.”
Because of the absence of import policy, there was no scope to import gold commercially in Bangladesh. But there are allegations that huge cache of gold has illegally been brought in the country by evading tax.
Jewellery traders have been complaining that the central bank had not auctioned the seized gold for ages, limiting the opportunity to buy gold legally.
The finance minister said the cabinet will finalise the policy. “Once the cabinet approves the policy, the licence of gold import will be issued from the Bangladesh Bank.”
Later, Additional Secretary to the Cabinet Division Mustafizur Rahman told reporters, “This policy is being made to bring the gold trade under commercial regulations.”
The policy will have a provision for exporting the gold after adding the value, he said.
“There will be a regulatory framework for buying and selling it. The Bangladesh Bank will appoint dealers under the framework through which (gold) will be imported. There will be criteria about the eligibility of importers so that anyone can run the gold business legally,” he added.
The additional secretary said they were discouraging ‘unauthorised import’ of gold now.
“No one will be able to bring gold bars in that way. Only authorised dealers will do it and the Bangladesh Bank will maintain a database,” he said.
The issue of gold import in Bangladesh came to the fore when the customs seized the collections of Apan Jewellers last year after the son of one of its owners was charged with rape.
The customs intelligence officials said Apan could not provide valid papers on the seized gold.
Bangladesh Jewellers Samity threatened strike, demanding that the authorities return the Apan gold and pass guidelines for import of gold or sell gold seized from smugglers.
Finance Minister Muhith later said the government was making the guidelines to help the gold industry expand.
According to a Transparency International Bangladesh report, the government suffers a revenue loss between Tk 4.87 billion and 9.74 billion annually due to the absence of a legal way to import gold.
TIB said the annual demand for gold in Bangladesh was between 18 and 36 tonnes, which was being met by smuggled gold.
The authorities seized 1.674 tonnes smuggled gold at the airports in past four financial years, according to the TIB report.