Abu Dhabi: Indian expatriates in the UAE have hit out at a customs rule that limits the amount of gold they can carry into the country.
It is hoped the regulation, which even stops people from wearing simple gold ornaments for fear of being charged customs duty, will be abolished soon following an assurance given by the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.
Dr Singh assured a delegation of parliamentarians who visited him last week that the recent decision to implement the old customs rule would be reconsidered, an MP who was part of the delegation told Gulf News.
Dr Singh gave an assurance that directions would be given to Finance Ministry officials to abolish the existing rule and introduce a new system that would give customs exemption based on the quantity rather than the price of gold, P. Rajeev, one of the lawmakers, told Gulf News.
He said: “In a memorandum submitted to Dr Singh, MPs requested the prime minister take urgent steps to abolish the outdated rule and levy the customs duty based on the weight of gold instead of the price of gold which keeps changing.”
K.V. Shams Al Deen, chairman of the Pravasibandhu Trust, an expatriate organisation in the UAE, who has been campaigning against the controversial customs rule, said: “The assurance given by the prime minister to MPs gives hope to Indian expatriates. But until an official announcement is made, expatriates should continue to exert pressure on the Indian government in this regard.”
According to rules set by India’s Central Board of Customs and Excise, an Indian passenger who has been residing abroad for over one year is allowed to carry jewellery up to an aggregate value of 10,000 rupees (Dh664) for males or 20,000 rupees (Dh1,328) for females without paying customs duty.
But based on average gold prices in India last week, a male passenger would be able to carry just 3.8 grams of gold and a female passenger about 7.6 grams without paying customs duty. The excess jewellery attracts about 13 per cent customs duty.
India’s overseas affairs minister Vayalar Ravi — who has sought the prime minister’s intervention to change the 1967 rule — has highlighted the fact that Indian women on an average tend to wear a gold chain, earrings and a wedding ring weighing at least 25-30 grams.
Gulf News has learned that the minister’s office is awaiting a response from the prime minister’s office on this issue.
At the time the rule was first implemented, the price of gold was just 40 rupees per gram, allowing a male passenger to carry 250 grams of gold and a female passenger to carry 500 grams without paying any tax.
A receipt produced by Biju Varghese, a UAE resident who travelled through Thiruvananthapuram airport in Kerala state on July 9, showed that he paid 2,943 rupees to carry 10 grams of gold.