Ho Hoang Thai, deputy chief of the National Inter-agency Committee to Control Smuggling, Commercial Fraud and Counterfeit Goods, spoke about trade fraud to Dai doan ket (Great National Unity) newspaper.
Could you tell us about smuggling and trade fraud in Viet Nam?
Smuggling and trade fraud crimes have been committed in our country for many years. The illegal industries create big losses for our economy and directly affect consumers and even their health. Smugglers often form rings that operate across the nation.
We all know that if there was no market for fake or low-quality goods, there would be no trade fraud. In an effort to fight these crimes, the Government has created the 389 Steering Committee to fight tax fraud and protect consumers' rights.
The committee has given instructions to all localities, particularly those in provinces in the central region and Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands), and those bordering China in the north.
In these regions, smugglers take advantage of any loopholes in Government policies. As Tet draws near, the demand for commodities increases rapidly. As a result, smuggling activities becomes active and complicated.
Smuggling is taking place in broad daylight in border provinces across the country. How can these provinces deal with it?
People responsible for leading the fight in each province include the secretary of the Provincial Party Committee, the chairman of the Provincial People's Committee, the permanent vice-chairman of the Provincial People's Committee and the director of the 389 Provincial Steering Committee.
Generally speaking, anti-smuggling activities and trade fraud are carried out smoothly in all provinces. However, in northern Lang Son province, there are weaknesses in the fight.
Several factors are believed responsible, including the poor living conditions of many residents. Working for a transporter can be lucrative and hard to turn down for people in the hills near the border.
This is one of the most sensitive issues for local authorities, as they don't want to directly confront their people, because many are relatives.
However, in accordance with instructions from the 389 Steering Committee, the leaders of these agencies must bear responsibility for what's happening. For example, if border guards at a certain post fail to stop goods being smuggled across the border, the head of the border station should be blamed. Or, if a large amount of illegal goods are transported into Viet Nam, the police should also be blamed. In short, agency heads must realise their responsibilities in the fight against smuggling and trade fraud. One of the measures used to combat smuggling and trade fraud is increasing public awareness of anti-smuggling efforts. At the same time, it is necessary to enhance the capacity of forces in the field, including customs agents, border guards, market management authorities, police, coast guards, taxation offices and local governments.
During the first nine months of this year, authorities uncovered more than 146,000 violations, up by almost 19 per cent on the year, and issued fines worth 10 trillion VND (US$476 million), an increase of nearly 18 per cent. Legal action was taken against 1,147 suspects.
If you were a leader in a border province, what would you do to curb smuggling activities?
The first thing I would do is talk to agencies in my province, including border guards and customs officials. I would tell them to tighten the borders to ensure no smugglers got through, and that all goods entering Viet Nam must go through official border gates.
To help customs officers and border guards perform their duties, I would provide them with proper equipment and facilities.
Secondly, if smuggled goods were detected, I would order the police to investigate. — VNS