Dimapur, Nagaland. 21 February 2023: Brigadier S K Sheoran, YSM, SM, Deputy Inspector General, Assam Rifles Training Centre and School, Dimapur, Nagaland, today said, “The government has given the power to the Assam Rifles under the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act to keep a check on drug trafficking in the North Eastern states.
Addressing the ‘Capacity Building Programme for Officers of Assam Rifles on Prevention of Counterfeiting and Smuggling’ organised by FICCI’s Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy (CASCADE), Brigadier Sheoran stated that smuggling and counterfeits hinder progress, economic growth and create safety hazards for consumers. As a result, significant steps should be taken against illicit traders to tackle the menace.
He added that drugs, cigarettes, arms and ammunition and betel nuts are a few products which are frequently smuggled into our country. Therefore, there is a need for stringent punishment and a fear of the law to curtail the problem of illicit trade. He said the only way to stop smuggling at the border is to stay alert and watch everything coming into the country, especially through the porous and unfenced border with Myanmar.
While giving an overview of the socio-economic impact of counterfeiting and smuggling, Mr Deep Chand, Advisor, FICCI CASCADE and Former Special Commissioner of Police, New Delhi, said, “Assam Rifles’ proactive vigilance in intercepting the movement of smuggled products is a definitive step towards putting the fear in the hearts of smugglers who deal in illicit trade activities.” He appreciated the efforts of Assam Rifles in successfully intercepting illicit cigarettes, liquor, currency, and contrabands, among others, in the Northeastern states. Furthermore, he noted that the capacity-building program seeks to sensitise the officers of Assam Rifles on the issue and amplify the need for a greater focus on combatting smuggling and related crimes at the border.
He further stated that as per the FICCI CASCADE’s recent report titled “Illicit Markets: A Threat to Our National Interests”, the illicit trade in the five key industries (Mobile Phones, FMCG-Household and Personal Goods, FMCG-Packaged Foods, Tobacco Products, and Alcoholic Beverages) results in a total estimated legitimate employment loss of 15.96 lakhs. In addition, the estimated tax loss to the government due to illicit goods in these industries is Rs 58,521 crore, with two highly regulated and taxed industries, tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, accounting for nearly 49% of the overall tax loss.
Mr Avinash Sinha, Regional, Manager, Industry Affairs (East), ITC Ltd., said, “Among the illicit & smuggled goods, cigarettes have emerged as one of the most lucrative products, witnessing the highest jump in the recent past, and it accounts for one-third of the legal cigarette market in the country.” He added that it calls for heightened surveillance and stricter enforcement to curb the menace of illegal cigarettes in India.
Mr Milind Palany, Senior Manager, Global Brand Protection, Southern Asia and ANZ, Kenvue (Johnson and Johnson), said, “In India, smuggling, counterfeiting, tax evasion and illicit trade is impacting legitimate economic activity. It also hinders government investment in vital public services, dislocating millions of legitimate jobs and causing irreversible damage to ecosystems and human lives.” He underlined that Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health is moving toward educating the Customs and LEA, which are the first line of defence.
Ms Shamin Marwah Anand, Legal Manager, Marico Limited, said, “the consequences of counterfeits are considerable, and they affect the industry, consumers, government and society. Individual consumers purchasing counterfeit goods are denied the use of safe and genuine products, especially if they believe they are purchasing legitimate products.” In addition to the legitimate loss of sales, companies may suffer a loss of reputation from poorly performing counterfeit products. Finally, entities like the government may suffer from loss of revenue, and societies may suffer risks to public health and safety, she added.
FICCI CASCADE has been working closely with the government, industry, enforcement officials, the legal fraternity, consumer organisations and the youth to create awareness of the adverse impact of the problem of counterfeiting and smuggling. Among other activities, FICCI CASCADE has been regularly engaging with law enforcement agencies, including police, customs and paramilitary organisations involved in border protection, to sensitise them on the problem’s gravity.