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Corruption weakens anti-smuggling fight

Update: January, 08/2014 - 08:33
The conference, broadcast live on radio and television channels, was held by the National Assembly Economics Committee for its members to question relevant ministries and other agencies about the situation regarding cross-border smuggling and discuss potential solutions.— VNA/VNS Photo An Dang

HA NOI (VNS) — The fight against cross-border smuggling is complicated by several factors including wrongdoings in anti-trafficking operations, officials admitted at a conference yesterday.

The conference, broadcast live on radio and television channels, was held by the National Assembly Economics Committee for its members to question relevant ministries and other agencies about the situation regarding cross-border smuggling and discuss potential solutions.

Vu Huy Hoang, Minister of Industry and Trade, admitted that cross-border smuggling continued to allow the entry of many counterfeit and low-quality goods into the domestic market.

He said that over the last three years, authorities had registered nearly 828,500 cases of smuggling, counterfeit products and commercial cheating. Confiscated products include firecrackers, wildlife, rare timber and beverages like wine, beer and soft drinks.

Hoang called for trade associations to be more proactive in the fight against smuggling, saying domestic firms needed to protect themselves and develop trademarks, "enhancing the competitiveness of Vietnamese products."

He also urged the establishment of a forum where authorities and enterprises can discuss measures to prevent smuggling.

Relevant agencies should develop specific policies for border areas so that local people can have stable jobs and improve their living standards, which will prevent them from joining hands with smugglers, he said.

Hoang admitted that there was corruption among the anti-smuggling forces, including market watchdogs, but this was a minority.

He blamed a shortage of market watchdogs for the problem, noting that at just 5,200, border localities were understaffed to carry out the work of detecting and preventing cross-border smuggling.

"We have asked the Government to recruit another 1,000 market management officials for key spots," he said.

Deputy Tran Du Lich of HCM City expressed dissatisfaction with the official response, saying the ministry's report had not properly evaluated the situation of cross-border smuggling, which was destroying the economy and undermining the confidence of local enterprises.

"The important thing is to cut the root of the problem by finding the heads of the smuggling rings," Lich said, adding that right now, authorities were only apprehending the smugglers, not those controlling the operations.

Lieutenant general Nguyen Tien Luc, deputy head of the Ministry of Public Security's Crime Prevention Bureau, said that the current legal framework was not strong enough to prevent smuggling.

He called for stricter punishments for violations.

Luc also blamed an overlap in policies that led to difficulties in controlling and preventing smuggling, especially in border areas.

In her concluding remarks, Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, Vice Chairwoman of the National Assembly, stressed the need to modify and supplement policies to promote production of quality goods by domestic enterprises.

She also urged ministries, sectors and local authorities to enhance their responsibility and commitment to preventing smuggling and trade fraud. — VNS

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