The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has raised alarm bells over across customs formations all over India to keep track of the smuggling of infrared thermometers from China to India. The directions have come at a time when the demand for these IR thermometers has jumped fourfold due to the outbreak of COVID-19. As per a report in news agency PTI, smugglers are trying to cash in on high demand by evading custom checks conducted by tax authorities. The under-reporting of such imported goods badly dents the government exchequer.
One of the officers' privy to the development said, "The DRI has sent an alert to inland container depots and the cargo airport in Delhi and other places across the country, dealing with the import and export of commodities from abroad, among others asking them to be vigilant about such smuggling." He further went on to add that Smugglers can declare these thermometers to be undervalued or mis-declared for illegal imports into India.
High loss to India's exchequer due to smuggling
Generally, the prices of the imported goods are falsified and showed that these goods are being imported at a lower price than the actual price paid by the importer. According to a 2019 study by the US-based think-tank Global Financial Transparency, India lost a whopping USD 13 billion, about Rs 90,000 crore, through exchange mis-invoicing (including under and over-invoicing), equal through 5.5 percent of the amount of the country's overall tax collections in 2016.
A reputed manufacturing firm's non-contact infrared/thermal thermometer may cost between Rs 3,500 and Rs 8,000 anywhere, depending on the websites that sell them. The officials of DRI also suspect that smugglers may use Dubai port's free-trade zone to route the goods to India to send them. Another DRI official also added, "A strict vigilance is maintained to thwart such attempts to cause damage to the Indian economy and the local manufacturers." It is to be noted that DRI is the federal economic intelligence agency with the Finance Ministry to check commercial frauds including others.