Gold smuggling by returnee migrant workers hit Nepal’s forex; expat workers warned

Nepal has warned its migrant workers against bringing gold from abroad amid the increasing trend of smuggling causing loss to the government both in revenue as well foreign exchange

Nov 22, 2021
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Nepal has warned its migrant workers against bringing gold from abroad amid the increasing trend of smuggling causing loss to the government both in revenue as well foreign exchange. The warning came after remittances, the country’s biggest forex source, continues the declining trend for months. 

Many Nepalis have been bringing gold bullions from abroad by bending the metal in the form of bangles, among other jewelry, a report in The Kathmandu Post pointed out, citing Amrit Sigdel, who is a customs official at the Tribhuvan International Airport. From now, the government would take action against such returnees. 

Authorities have already issued instructions to Nepalis working abroad against such practices. Close to a million Nepali workers are in foreign countries,  mainly Gulf countries and Malaysia. In Nepal, remittances account for almost 22 percent of its annual gross domestic product and contribute close to a quarter of foreign exchange.

In the last fiscal, the government had received around $8.08 billion, the highest so far, in remittance. 

However, in the first quarter of the current financial year, remittances fell by almost 7.6 percent in comparison to the same period last year. During the same period, the foreign exchange reserve fell by almost 5.6 percent. 

In the first quarter, gold and silver worth more than $180 million were imported into the country.  

Furthermore, the significant rise in import bills, for both due to increase consumption and rise in commodity and fuel prices in the global market, caused concern in the government. To limit import bills, the government had recently increased import duties on many items, including Gold and Silver. 

However, this increase in duties resulted in the increased smuggling of gold and silver. Officials said Kathmandu dealers were using migrant workers in Nepal for bringing gold and paying them in return. 

Usually, migrant workers are allowed to bring up to 50 grams of gold in the form of jewelry. However, this concession is now being misused by dealers. 

(SAM)