Most gold imports illegal


By Zainab Muhammadi May 12, 2010 - 17:10

KABUL (PAN): Nearly 2.5 tonnes of gold imported into Afghanistan each year but only 37 kilos of it went through custom procedures last year, jewellers said on Wednesday.

Abdul Basir, a gold seller in the Lycee Maryam neighbourhood of Kabul, alleged most of the gold came to Afghanistan illegally. He said 50 percent of the gold available in Kabul bazaars was imported from Dubai, Kuwait and Pakistan.

He added since a high amount of tax had to be paid on gold imports, traders resorted to illegal means to evade duties.

Another jeweller at the Gul Bahar Centre also said the gold brought into the country legally was more expensive. "It is just because the tax is so high, gold traders don't have no option but to increase the price".

One gram of Arabian gold accounted for 1,500 afs ($30) while the same amount of the Iranian variety cost 1,300 afs ($26) in Kabul last week.

Head of Kabul Jewellers' Association, Noor Muhammad Rezaee, confirmed the high prices but said they recently held talks with finance ministry officials to seek ways of reducing the import tax.

He was optimistic the finance ministry would approve their proposal which would force traders into legal imports.

Aziz Shams, finance ministry spokesman, said they were looking into the problems of gold traders and would try to reduce the tax. He said legal gold imports were a big revenue source for cash-strapped the country.

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