Bangladesh Jeweller’s Association (BAJUS) has requested the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) to assist it in checking gold smuggling.
Its leaders met BFIU head Masud Biswas at the Bangladesh Bank headquarters in the capital on Thursday. BAJUS President Sayem Sobhan Anvir, General Secretary Dilip Kumar Agarwala, and other high-ups of the association were present at the meeting.
Money laundering would reduce if gold smuggling and the act of bringing in gold ornaments illegally could be controlled, Dilip told journalists after the meeting.
He believes the ongoing forex crisis would end if gold smuggling could be checked.
The association told the meeting gold ornaments and bars worth Tk 73,000 crore enter the country illegally every year, requesting the BFIU to increase its surveillance in order to stop smuggling.
“Now we will work with the BFIU to raise awareness of gold smuggling among the people. We will also share information with the agency,” said Agarwala.
The association said the abuse of baggage rules plays a role in how gold ornaments enter the country illegally. It also said this is a key reason behind the ongoing dollar crisis.
The BFIU chief said the agency was working to tackle money laundering and other illegal activities.
In 2018, the government formulated a gold policy to allow the precious metal’s imports and prevent its smuggling. The policy was also aimed at ensuring transparency in gold trading.
In December 2019, the central bank awarded licences to 18 companies, including a bank, to import gold. Of them, 11 got import approval.
Diamond World was the first company to obtain the Bangladesh Bank’s approval to import gold. It got approval to import 131 kilograms of gold last year. The other companies got approval to import 306.761 kilograms of gold at different times.
Despite the authorities allowing gold imports, local jewellery companies are not very interested in doing so, said central bank officials.
They also said a huge amount of gold enters the country every year through the misuse of baggage rules, which may be the reason behind the slow import trend.
The Bangladesh Bank recently suspended gold imports to save foreign currency amid declining foreign exchange reserves. Along with the measure, it took several other initiatives to put a lid on the decline in reserves.