Need for enhanced international cooperation and coordination to tackle Smuggling
NEW DELHI, 11 February 2023: Mr Mohan Kumar Singh, Director General, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) while addressing at FICCI CASCADE ‘Anti-Smuggling Day’ event said, “For DRI every day is an Anti-Smuggling Day. The enormity of the issue of smuggling can be gauged from the fact that DRI seizes more than Rs 1,000 crore of contraband every month. Smuggling is carried out in our country by the land, sea and air route via different modes- containers, porous borders, usage of sophisticated means by smugglers etc.”
Applauding FICCI CASCADE (Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy) Mr Singh said, “Today, smugglers are using sophisticated methods and technologies to smuggle goods across international borders. This kind of illicit trade in terms of counterfeiting and smuggling is a global risk that has negative impacts on economic activities, deprives governments of revenue, forces a high burden on taxpayers, exposes customers to dangerous products and provides linkages to terrorism. Think Tanks like FICCI CASCADE can play an important role in generating fresh ideas, creating awareness and highlighting the problems of smuggling and counterfeiting.”
Over the years, FICCI CASCADE has been working on creating awareness on tackling the grave problem of smuggling and launched Anti-Smuggling Day in 2022 as a global first. The objective of declaring an Anti-Smuggling Day was to highlight the issue amongst consumers and how smuggling is impacting nation-building, enhance coordination and cooperation between law enforcement agencies, facilitate better exchange of information and experiences and build a strong network to find innovative solutions to combat the menace of smuggling.
Mr P K Das, Director, Compliance and Facilitation Directorate, World Customs Organisation (WCO) said, “As per UNCTAD smuggling drains 3 per cent of the world’s economy and results in a loss of 2 trillion dollars. To address smuggling the WCO has unveiled a three- year strategic plan (2022-25) with a focus in the areas of illicit trade. WCO has also launched a data strategy to nurture and reengineer new processes, incorporate modern disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, machine learning, drone, robotics etc.”
Highlighting the importance of sharing best practices to tackle smuggling, Mr Das added, “Advanced analytics used by CBIC (Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs) to detect fraud in indirect taxation domain in India was showcased to WCO members as part of disseminating best practices. WCO also has been applying technology to improve the seamless flow of information and statistics. Real-time intelligence sharing amongst custom agencies is also being done.”
Speaking on the importance of Anti-Smuggling Day, Mr Anil Rajput, Chairman, FICCI CASCADE said, “A year ago, on this day, FICCI CASCADE, took the lead and marked the launch of Anti-Smuggling Day on 11th February. On that day we pledged to leave no stone unturned in raising awareness and resolved to take concerted action against this multi-faceted adversary.”
Mr Rajput added, “I urge the United Nations to recognize and declare 11th February as anti-smuggling day which will significantly encourage international cooperation and coordination in efforts to tackle this issue, as well as provide an effective platform for discussing and addressing the root cause and consequences of smuggling. This will also provide greater thrust for nations to come together to find solutions and combat this global problem.”
As a run-up to this year’s Anti-Smuggling Day, and to sensitize the youth on the menace of smuggled goods, FICCI CASCADE also organized a Digital Art/Poster making competition on the theme, ‘Stand Against Smuggling’. Winners of the competition were given awards during the event.
The conference hosted two insightful panel discussions in which distinguished Indian and international experts discussed ways on strengthening the global strategy to combat smuggling and fostering national security and economic development by mitigating smuggling.
During one of the panel discussions, Mr Balesh Kumar, Member, Appellate Tribunal-SAFEMA, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance acknowledged the contribution of FICCI CASCADE in tackling the issue of smuggling and said, “Smuggling is a multidimensional issue and has serious impacts on economic security as well as national security. There are four steps that can be taken for creating a meaningful impact in curbing smuggling. One, we need legislative upgradation in the context of present dynamics of smuggling; second, effect policy changes in sectors that are vulnerable to smuggling; third, there should be more usage of successful technology risk management measures and fourth, we need to strengthen our resources including equipment and manpower to manage operational issues while combating smuggling. A well-coordinated international approach including further developing of bilateral mechanisms will go a long way in tackling smuggling.”
Mr A M Kulkarni, Additional Director General, National Investigation Agency said, “Arbitrage arising out of smuggling needs to be seen in a new light. Smuggling not only causes money arbitrage but also fuels terrorism as money gained from smuggling is being funnelled back to countries which foster terrorism and which in turn comes back to impact our country and other nations.”