‘Illicit trade harms Govt, business community’


THE increase in illicit trade in the country has caused a lot of harm to the Government and the business community, according to the Business Council of PNG’s Fight Against Illicit Trade (Fait) working group. Speaking during the virtual Praivet Gavamani Konnekt 2 dialogue yesterday, Fait chairman John Nilkare Jr said that it was hurting the Government revenues and legitimate businesses. He said according to a report collated by British American Tobacco (BAT) PNG a few years ago, the illegal trade of cigarettes had cost the Government about K500 million in taxes. “This is really big,” he said. “We want to call an action for legislative changes especially in compliance to counter illicit trade and raise public awareness on the issue.” Meanwhile, Danny Kowuropa from the PNG Customs Services, said the authority had brought in amendments to the Customs Act and was working with different players in the market to address the issue of illicit trade in the country. “We have successfully brought in the amendments to the Customs Act, especially on the penalties,” he said. He said the amendments were passed in a Parliament seating last year. “We have increased the penalties from K5,000 to K20,000 and the highest penalty we have is K1 million, especially for the smuggling of cigarettes and 20 years imprisonment,” he said. “We have actually increased the penalty regime under the Customs Act to address the fight against illicit trade in the country. “Besides that, we continue our effort in terms of enforcement, and we are closely working with BAT and other law enforcement bodies to fight illicit trade in the market. “We need to continue cooperating with BAT and the PNG Manufacturers Council and all other players in the market so that we take a concerted effort towards our fight in illicit trade and create a level playing field for everyone to be able to participate.”