Gov’t looking to strengthen penalties for gold smuggling – VP Jagdeo

Despite there being a robust system in place for the lawful exportation of gold, Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, has expressed the need for strengthening of this system and ramping up of charges and penalties to tackle gold smuggling.

Dr Jagdeo, who was at the time speaking at a press conference at Office of the President on Thursday, said that gold smuggling continues to pose a challenge to the country’s financial landscape.

Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

He noted that this is not a new phenomenon, and concerted efforts have enabled local authorities to pinpoint new tactics being used by gold smugglers.

However, according to Dr Jagdeo, more must be done.

As a result, he said the government may even be looking to procure foreign support to fortify efforts to eradicate the practice.

“Clearly we have to strengthen this arrangement further, and possibly by some review, by an external consultant to strengthen this to see what additional safeguards we can put,” he said.

He added, “We would have to probably get feedback from the exporters, from the third countries in which they are exporting.”

Dr. Jagdeo expressed concern that the potential profits from gold smuggling seem to outweigh the current penalties, leading people to continue the practice.

“We need to strengthen financial penalties. In Customs, if you evade taxes and smuggle goods in, you have undeclared goods, you have to pay a fine of triple the duty-paid value…so we may want to take what we do at Customs now, and introduce it here for the evasion of gold. Not just paying the foregone taxes, but you also have to pay a huge penalty for the evaded taxes,” he explained.

He said that the government is seeking to impose a heavy financial burden on gold smugglers through substantial fines and penalties, aiming to make the practice economically unviable.

The vice president added, “We may have to start exploring what we did under the Laws dealing with Money laundering or Drug trafficking, forfeiture of assets…we may have to do this sort of thing because it has been going on for a while.”

He added that the government has implemented a series of incentives for miners to cultivate a more enabling business environment, but to no avail.

“Still no compliance, because the rewards of smuggling seem to be greater. The foregone tax revenue, seems to a big incentive, we have to take away that incentive now by putting a regime of penalties and sanctions if you get caught smuggling the large quantity of gold,” the VP lamented.

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