Customs puts story straight on seizure of tobacco items

National

There is no restriction on the importation of genuine cigarette products, Customs Chief Commissioner Ray Paul says.
Paul said where the importation of these cigarettes contravened the Customs Act or any of Papua New Guinea’s relevant laws and regulations, Customs would intervene to seize the import.
Responding to claims that foreign-brand cigarettes like Double Happiness, Golden Bridge and Brus were allowed to be imported and openly sold on the streets, Paul said there was a public misconception that they were illegal or fake products.
“PNG Customs has also been featured quite a lot in the media lately in stories relating to the seizure of cargo due to tax evasion. Much of the seized cargo has included foreign-brand cigarettes like Double Happiness, Golden Bridge and Brus,” he said
“Because these products have featured prominently in the recent tax-evasion cases reported widely by the media, there is a public misconception that they are illegal or fake products.
“The products are not illegal. Proper processes were simply not complied with during their importation, that is why they were detained then seized by Customs.”
Paul explained that non-genuine or fake cigarettes were normally referred to as counterfeit goods as they were not made or licensed to be made by rights holders under contractual arrangements.
He said counterfeits were illegal and should not be imported into the country in the first instance.
In the case of the Double Happiness, Golden Bridge and Brus brand cigarettes, Paul said such cigarette brands had not been registered with PNG Customs under its Recordation and Intervention system as possible intellectual property rights (IPR) infringing goods so PNG Customs could not stop their entry into the country.
This means that anyone can import and sell these products in PNG.
“The PNG Customs Service has in place an IPR monitoring and enforcement system where rights holders of IPR, who suspect or know of their rights being infringed, come and register to have their goods or products monitored for enforcement at the borders,” Paul explained.
“This process is called the IPR Recordation and Intervention System.”
“Recordation allows PNG Customs to monitor the IPR infringing goods and products at the borders for a period of two years and Intervention allows PNG Customs to suspend clearance of IPR infringing goods during the two-year Recordation period mentioned.”

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