The Bangladesh Bank has issued a circular, clarifying that only authorised dealers may import gold and gold jewellery.
The circular was issued by the central bank's Foreign Exchange Policy department on Wednesday.
It said there was no bar to importing gold under the 1947 Foreign Exchange Regulation Act as stipulated in paragraph 4, chapter 6, volume 1 of the Guidelines for Foreign Exchange Transactions 2018.
The Act does not specify who can import gold, but the 2018 gold policy says only dealers authorised by the Bangladesh Bank can do so.
Henceforth, this policy must be followed when importing gold. Furthermore, paragraph 4, chapter 6, volume 1 of the Guidelines for Foreign Exchange Transactions 2018 has been annulled.
At present, two jewellery businesses import gold as authorised dealers of the Bangladesh Bank. Six more businesses have already applied for a no-objection to import certificate.
Following the formulation of the gold policy in October 2018, the central bank issued a circular to appoint dealers in March last year. Eight months later, in November, 19 organisations and banks were awarded licences to import gold, but high import duties deterred them from doing so.
As a result, import duty was slashed by 20% in the budget for the current fiscal year, setting Tk2,000 per bhori of gold (1 bhori equivalent to about 11.67 grams) as supplementary duty.
President of Bangladesh Jewellers Samity, Enamul Haque Khan, told The Business Standard that even though the central bank had provided its clarifications, authorised dealers were unable to import gold because of the Commerce Ministry.
He said that the Commerce Ministry, had asked to examine imported gold, but there was no system in place to do so.
"That is why import has come to a halt. The government fears traders will launder money in the name of gold import."
The import of each bhori of gold costs Tk70,000, which includes Tk3,500 in tax and other expenses, said Enamul.
"Will anyone spend Tk3,500 to launder Tk70,000 abroad? As for laundering money, hundi remains the easiest way," he explained.
Bangladesh Jewellers Samity is not against the examination of imported gold, said Enamul.
"To this end, the government can set up labs that meet international standards and take assistance from the private sector, if necessary."