x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

UAE Indians welcome decision to raise ceiling on gold duty

Women arriving at Indian airports are now permitted to carry gold worth more than Dh6,755 without being taxed.

DUBAI// Indian expatriates have welcomed their government's decision to increase the ceiling on gold duty by five times, announced yesterday as part of this year's budget.

Women arriving at Indian airports will now be permitted to carry gold worth more than 100,000 rupees (Dh6,755) or more than 37 grams without being taxed. Men can carry half that amount.

"I feel happy that you can go home now without any fear," said KV Shamsudheen, chairman of the Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust, a social organisation, that petitioned the Indian government last year to scrap the decades-old duty.

"Officials were doing random checks and harassing passengers," he said.

He made the petition last June after many expatriates travelling from the UAE to India complained about being asked to pay 10 per cent tax at airports or leave their gold behind.

People were upset that the government was enforcing a law enacted in the 1960s.

Under the new budget, expatriates bringing more gold than the revised amount will now have to pay 15 per cent duty.

"Although this is a five times increase, it is still not enough. Most Indian women wear or carry more gold than this when they go back home. The government is trying to discourage the investment in gold but it is a part of our custom," said Mr Shamsudheen.

Savitha Ashok, a housewife in Dubai, disagreed.

"Tax makes sense after a point. If you can afford to buy 90 grams of gold, then you can afford to pay tax. We have to be fair and true to our conscience."

She said authorities could confine duty to new gold ornaments instead of taxing people on old, used jewellery.

pkannan@thenational.ae