Customs advised to improve processes, penalty arrangement


THE PNG Customs has been advised to improve its processes and penalty arrangements to stop the importation of illegal items.
PNG Manufacturers Council chief executive officer Chey Scovell, while welcoming the destruction of illegally imported goods valued at more than K30 million by PNG Customs officers, said fees payable must be higher than the tax evaded.
The illegal items were from six containers seized between 2018 and 2020. They included illicit cigarettes and tobacco, alcohol and jewellery from eight importers.
The offences include smuggling, tax evasion and intellectual property rights infringement.
“The council continues to welcome the focus from Customs to ensure a level playing field,” Scovell said.
“Destroying the items comes at an additional cost to the State, including the storage of these seized items in the last few years.
“Noting the importers failed to pay the required taxes, what was the total amount of fines collected?
“We note the items destroyed were captured by Customs years back. This is why it’s important for Customs to get it right on entry, and to improve its processes and penalty arrangements.
“Illegal importers should not simply miss out on their goods.
“The fines payable need to be more than the avoided taxes.
“If this has happened then it’s a good result for Customs.
“But if Customs has simply destroyed the items and penalties up to four times the imported value (as per the law) hasn’t been applied, it’s not a good result overall and will not act as much of a deterrent.”