Mmegi Online :: Govt loses millions to illegal tobacco trade
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Last Updated
Monday 29 August 2016, 16:58 pm.
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Govt loses millions to illegal tobacco trade

Botswana continues to lose millions to illicit tobacco trade in addition to the repercussions the practice has on public health.
By Baboki Kayawe Fri 18 Dec 2015, 15:37 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Govt loses millions to illegal tobacco trade








The Ministry of Health (MoH) and the World Bank said this at a workshop meant to discuss initiatives to eliminate all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products.   

In 2013, the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) reported smuggling and non-declaration of goods resulted in lost revenue of an estimated P947,616 from duties and taxes that could have been charged on cigarettes that year.

Recently, the Botswana Police reported an annual loss of P 3,328,000 through cigarette smuggling at the Tlokweng border, while intelligence services have observed that there is high infiltration of tobacco and drugs such as cocaine, dagga and madaena through the same border gate.

It is against this backdrop that the MoH, in collaboration with the World Bank, is conducting a workshop aimed at eliminating illicit trade on tobacco products in the country.

The government is a signatory to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products 2013.

At the forum held at President Hotel, deputy permanent secretary in MoH, Haruna Jibril said the implications of the ever increasing illicit trading, cross border smuggling and counterfeit tobacco products are massive.

“We are aware of the huge revenue losses to the government of Botswana as a result of illicit trade in tobacco products.  Ultimately this loss to the taxpayer means

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less investment in services that are important to the continued prosperity of our citizens such as health, education and infrastructure,” said Jibril.

He assured the nation, however that efforts by his ministry, BURS and the police are bearing fruit.

In the year 2013-2014 for instance, 7,670 cartons of smoked tobacco products, 3,153 cartons of smokeless tobacco products and 900 kilogrammes of unprocessed tobacco leaves were confiscated in the market.

“More results will be realised with your coming on board to support the cause,” he said.

The workshop provided a platform to enable various stakeholders to share views on how Botswana could fulfill its obligation in line with the FCTC provision to eliminate illicit trade. This comes at a time when the country’s tobacco control bill is expected in Parliament next year.

Senior trade facilitation specialist at the World Bank, Enrique Ivanovic said all people trading in tobacco and its products ought to be licensed.

Moreover, a competent authority must be set up to issue, renew, suspend or revoke these licenses subject to the provisions of the Protocol, he suggested.

“For purposes of further securing the supply chain and to assist the investigation on illicit trade in tobacco products, it is important that tracking and tracing mechanisms are put in place,” said Ivanovic.

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