Call to set up taskforce to monitor illicit trade


The PNG Manufacturer’s Council had raised concerns over the rise in illicit trade and reaffirms the call to have an independent taskforce on illicit trade.
Chief executive officer Chey Scovell made this call after illegal cigarettes were confiscated by the Police Drug and Vice Squad at Kennedy Estate in Port Moresby on Friday.
“We continue to be concerned by border agencies, mainly Customs,” he said.
“The commissioner (Ray Paul) recently suggested that the illicit trade has dropped to one per cent. We strongly refute that claim.”
Scovell said they were concerned that Customs had advised that they had given this company a licence to manufacture cigarettes.
“It’s quite clear that they are actually importing cigarettes now and only repacking them,” he said.
“They are physically opening up packets of imported cigarettes that have 20 cigarettes and stuffing them into a 25 cigarette packet.
“We are just baffled about how Customs would have given them an excise certificate to do that.
“We understand that the certificate was just granted very recently.
“That was after we sought to have the seizure pay price.”
Scovell said they also noted that when the raid took place, the people’s first call was to contacts in Customs and police.
“We thought that was quite strange and concerning, that when one raid happens, the same thing happens again,” he said.
“We just repeat the same comments: this further strengthens the argument to expedite the operation of an independent, standalone taskforce on illicit trade.
“This represents hundreds of millions of kina of what’s revenue that should be going into the Government that would allow the Government to pay their district services improvement programmes, functional grants and provide support to the agencies to do their jobs.
“We (council) are also gravely concerned that these people are putting a PNG Made logo on the product when they were not a member.
“Furthermore, Customs suggested that we need to register intellectual property with them but if they are manufacturing these locally, that wouldn’t actually have any bearing on that.
“You don’t import PNG made.”
Scovell said they were pleased that the private sector had led the way in detecting illicit trade and the police had supported it.