The National, Monday, May 2, 2011
PAPUA New Guinea Customs Services and cigarette manufacturer British American Tobacco have agreed to combat the illegal tobacco trade.
In a memorandum of understanding signed last Friday in Port Moresby, the two bodies pledged to work together and to stop the buying and selling of illicit tobacco in the country.
Customs commissioner Gary Juffa said the illicit tobacco trade had become an increasing problem for the government and the industry over the past five years.
“There are now large quantities of counterfeit and contraband tobacco products being smuggled in or imported without following government regulations,” Juffa said.
“The Papua New Guinea government every year loses millions of kina in tax revenue.
“It is harmful to the growth of the local industry and most importantly, the sub-standard products pose greater health risks to smokers,” he said.
He said a collaborated effort was required from all concerned stakeholders and the wider community to support and work together in addressing the issue.
BAT general manager Rashed Ahmed thanked Customs for taking the initiative and guaranteed cooperation.
He said the signing of the MoU was a milestone achievement and was done in the true spirit of promoting public private partnership.
“BAT-PNG has been in the country for more than 40 years and has worked with the government, private sector and community organisations to address issues impacting society and will continue to do so,” Ahmed said.