SL Customs to impose heavy penalty on Gold smugglers amidst its decline.
By: Staff Writer
Colombo (LNW): In response to escalating revenue losses, Sri Lanka Customs plans to enforce maximum penalties for individuals smuggling over 100 grams of gold and substantial quantities of restricted items including mobile phones, a spokesman said Sunday.
However Sri Lanka has seen lower gold smuggling movements in the past few weeks, especially at the country’s main international airport, as a result of the strict actions of an honest Indian Customs official currently based in Chennai airport, local Customs officials said while praising him.
A recent report from the Parliamentary Committee on Ways and Means highlighted a loss of 1.4 billion rupees in recent times, attributing it to discretionary powers granted to customs officers in determining fines for smuggling restricted goods into the country,.
The committee also revealed a surge in the smuggling of gold, mobile phones, and other valuable items over the past three years following import restrictions.
Since June 2023 individuals caught bringing in restricted valuable items could face fines three times the value of the goods or a 100,000 rupees penalty.
As of Oct. 31, customs had collected 760 billion rupees in revenue, with expectations that total customs revenue for the year would surpass 925 billion rupees
Deputy Commissioner P.K. Saravanan of the Chennai Customs, who is presently stationed at the Meenambakkam International Airport in Chennai, has won praise as a very strict and law-abiding official in countering all forms of smuggling movements including gold, Customs sources said.
A senior Customs official attached to the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) said that that the gold smuggling movements in Sri Lanka entirely revolves around Chennai as its hub.
He said smuggling of gold, which is a common crime during a busy week at the BIA, was last seen about a month ago when Sri Lanka Customs seized gold biscuits weighing over six kilograms.
Since then, the main categories of gold smuggling movements, which are gold biscuit smuggling and gold gel smuggling, have not been detected to date, except for a few minor gold jewellery smuggling attempts, he said.
“Most of the inbound flights from Dubai use Colombo as a transit point and about 50% of those passengers are transit passengers bound for India, where the majority of gold smuggling cases are detected,” he said.
Commissioner Saravanan who has taken charge of the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) and Intelligence in Unaccompanied Baggage of the Chennai International Airport about a few months ago has won a reputation for being very honest and strict in carrying out his duties.
He has even taken steps to stop routine readymade garment traders from accompanying baggages with commercial goods, which pose a great risk of smuggling contraband, sources said.
“Deputy Commissioner Saravanan has taken strict measures to eradicate the gold smuggling movement in Chennai and as a result he has received death threats. We need such strict and honest officials in Sri Lanka too,” he said.