Illegal sale of tobacco denies govt K250mil annually

National

Papua New Guinea loses almost K250 million in taxes annually from illegal sales of tobacco products to businesshouses that are suspected to be linked to organised crimes, British American Tobacco director Naved Manzoon claimed yesterday.
“The proceeds of these sales usually go to fund transnational criminal activities like drug-smuggling that usually target vulnerable members of the society like the youths.”
Manzoon signed an agreement with Police Commissioner Gari Baki to enable his company and police to combat illegal sales of tobacco in the country.
“The implication of illegal trading of tobacco products is both economic and social,” Manzoon said.
“The economic implication is well known. Based on our own calculations, money generated from illegal sales of tobacco products is almost K250 million annually.
“This money should have been shared within the legitimate tobacco industry and the national government. “This huge money is not coming through the formal channel and both the industry and the national government are been deprived.
“The more serious impact is the consequences and from our experiences in many parts of the world, especially y in South East Asia, we are seeing that this illicit money actually flow to the section of the economy where it is prone to criminal activities.
“We believe that such illicit trading is happing in PNG as well.
“That can create serious social consequences for the sovereignty of the country as well.
“In that aspect this MOU (agreement) is crucial and shows the interest in the confidence in public-private partnership where we free PNG from this illicit activities.”
Baki said such partnership would help police combat transnational crime.
“It has been a big challenge to us as at the moment,” he said.

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