Illicit Tobacco Trade Rife – Madigele

| June 2, 2015

Assistant Minister of Health, Dr Alfred Madigele, has urged Batswana to help in the fight against illegal trade of tobacco products.

Speaking at the World NO Tobacco commemoration in Nata recently, Dr Madigele noted that some companies had been known to use loopholes in tobacco control laws to weaken governance systems and indulge in illegal trade of tobacco products.

He indicated that that his ministry and other stakeholders such as Botswana Police Service and Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) were fighting illegal cross border importation of tobacco products.

In the year 20132014, he said about 7960 cartons of smoked tobacco products, 3153 of smokeless tobacco products and 900 kilograms (kg) of tobacco leaves were confiscated in the market.

That, he said, showed that illegal trade of tobacco was rife in the country and needed immediate attention from all concerned stakeholders.

Furthermore, he noted that such bad practice led to other bad practices such as corruption, which if allowed to spread, weakened good governance and resulted in some undesirable elements within the security and customs excise.

In addition, he stated that illegal trade of contraband merchandise took tax revenue away from government, which could have otherwise been spent on providing services instead of directing them into the hands of criminals.

Again, he said illegal products lured young people into tobacco experimentation and use because they were more affordable.

Dr Madigele further expressed concern retailers who used children in illegal trading activities.

He emphasised that the ministry would continue executing its mandate to protect the nation, particularly saving the economy from bad practices of illegal trade.

“Part of our collective responsibility is to keep our eyes open. Be very vigilant and brave enough to report suspected illegal dealings or trafficking in tobacco products,” he said.

On other issues, he highlighted that the ministry was in the process of developing a comprehensive Anti-Tobacco Legislation, which he said would protect the public from detrimental effects of tobacco use.Meanwhile, an official from Anti-Tobacco Network (ATN), Mr Goitseone Matlhare said the evolution and growth of the illicit tobacco market had been significant and had developed into a global phenomenon, hence the need for coordinated global and regional efforts.

Mr Matlhare further indicated that annually, government faced huge revenue losses as a result of tobacco smuggling.

That, he said called for all concerned parties, including the nation to take action, which he added would have lasting impact on illegal trade. The World No Tobacco day was this year commemorated under the theme, “Stop illicit trade of tobacco products.”

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Business & Finance

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