Bengaluru: FICCI warns of spurt in illicit trade due to COVID economic distress

From Our Special Correspondent

Daijiworld Media Network

Bengaluru, Jul 15: The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has warned the government of a sharp spurt in illicit trade on account of the economic distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

FICCI’s Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy (CASCADE) has urged the policymakers that illicit trade should be treated as a national threat.

Illicit trade has emerged as one of the most formidable challenges before our nation, especially during the current pandemic which has led to economic distress. This comes in the wake of several cases of smuggling of goods such as gold, cigarettes, liquor which have been reported amid the COVID-19 pandemic, said Anil Rajput, Chairman, FICCI-CASCADE

Congratulating the enforcement agencies for successful seizures, Rajput said, "The perpetrators of illicit trade are always looking at innovative ways to deceive the system to carry out their activities. This deeply harms the economic interests of the nation and society ends up paying a huge cost. While the recent efforts of enforcement officers are laudable, we cannot afford to let the guard go down. At a time when the country is already dealing with the coronavirus triggered financial stress, it is important that the government maintains strict vigil to ensure that these offenders are kept at bay.”

In less than a week, the customs officials had two major seizures of smuggled cigarettes at New Delhi Railway station where the smugglers were using COVID-19 special trains for ferrying these products. These seizures come on the back of two other major busts of foreign cigarette smuggling rackets, first in Mumbai and the second one in Hyderabad. The combined value of the seizures is over Rs 15 crore.

Earlier this month, large seizure of smuggled gold worth Rs 1.5 crore and Rs 15 crore was also made by the Kerala Airport Authority and customs at Thiruvananthapuram Airport respectively.

Not only does smuggling dent the government exchequer, by creating opportunities from tax arbitrage, but also threatens local industries on which livelihoods of many depend.


In a recent study by FICCI CASCADE, it was estimated that due to smuggling over 16 lakh jobs were lost in India in 5 industry sectors alone in 2017-18. Besides unemployment and massive financial losses, it also creates large scale destabilization by fomenting crime and funding insurgency and terrorism. 


In order to create large-scale awareness of this menace, FICCI CASCADE has been conducting several interactions with government and enforcement agencies across several states in India on the ways and means to mitigate this challenge, Rajput has explained.




Title : Bengaluru: FICCI warns of spurt in illicit trade due to COVID economic distress


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