Authorities seized illegally imported cigarettes in Gia Lai Province. — VNA/VNS Photo Dư Toán
Trương Văn Ba, deputy chief of the Standing Office of the National Steering Committee for Combating against Smuggling, Commercial Frauds and Counterfeit Goods talks to Việt Nam News Agency on the challenges they are facing
What are the main reasons for the increase of illicit imports of tobacco, including cigarettes into Việt Nam as the Lunar New Year festival approaches?
In the last five years, Việt Nam has gained big successes in the fight against cigarette smuggling. More than 53 million packets have been seized, more than 2,000 cases have been brought to court, more than 10,000 offenders have been put on trial and more than 70,000 cases have been sanctioned.
However, in the real life, cigarette smuggling activities in the border areas are still happening every day, particularly in the northwestern border region. Adding to that, the benefits gained from cigarette smuggling are very high while the Vietnamese Government’s sanctions against these illicit activities are not strong enough to deter the smugglers from their illegal activities.
Due to the poor living conditions, many people living along the border areas have helped cigarette smugglers.
What are the challenges faced in the fight against cigarette smuggling?
Smugglers have increased their activities to bring a large volume of illegal goods from abroad, particularly from the neighbouring countries into Việt Nam. As a result, the National Steering Board 389 on Anti-Smuggling has instructed all functional agencies nationwide to step up their activities and to implement the Government Resolution No 41 on the fight against smugglings and trade fraudulence before and after the Lunar New Year festival in late January.
What are the challenges that the anti-smuggling forces have been facing in the fight against cigarette smuggling in the approach of the upcoming Lunar New Year?
Smuggling activities are mostly taking place on land routes and only a few cases were detected on sea or by air. However, according to the 389 National Steering Committee, the most common way to smuggle cigarettes into Việt Nam is by land along the Southwestern border areas.
At the approach of the Lunar New Year, the Committee has instructed all the agencies nationwide to tighten their control on all border-gates, including the Nội Bài and Tân Sơn Nhất airports.
By late October, some 9.5 million packs of cigarettes illegally imported into the country through the two southern provinces of Long An and Cần Thơ are still being kept in storage. Do you have any suggestion on how to solve the problem?
A huge number of cigarettes have recently been illegally imported into Việt Nam and they are being kept in the Customs Office’s warehouses. It will take a lot of time for the customs officers to classify the cigarette and their quality.
Meanwhile, authorities in many localities don’t have the expertise in defining the quality of the cigarettes and they have to wait for instructions from the authorities. As a result, it has led to delays.
Only the Long An Province has been able to classify more than 2 million packs of cigarettes and destroy more than 700,000 packets.
To solve this problem, the 389 National Steering Committee has called on agencies to work together to evaluate the quality of the cigarettes and then submit a proposal on how to solve the problem to the Steering Board of the 389 National Steering Committee.—VNS