A warehouse believed to be accommodating an illegal cigarette operation was raided by the National Drug and Vice Squad last week.
However, Customs Chief Commissioner, Ray Paul, defended the Asian-owned operation, saying it was issued a licence to operate.
“They’ve been importing and only this year, they intend to go into manufacturing,” Paul said of Golden Borough Ltd.
“And they have approached Customs and we have given them licence to operate this business.”
In sharing similar sentiments, Director of the Customs’ Internal Affairs Division, Brian Lillywhite, revealed that “there are other things at play” that his division has been tasked to look into.
“Understand that we are in a country where we have a lot of monopolies,” Lillywhite said.
“These monopolies have become so powerful that they are protecting their own industries.
“So if someone else pops up and tries to challenge them to reduce the price, or reduce or cut out their business, it is very easy for them to step in and try to prevent this from happening.
“Very easy for them to go and see another department because maybe they came and saw us and we’re not listening to them because we’re saying that ‘businesses should be fair’. Because at the end of the day, we’re looking after our people, we’re reducing costs in the long run, and increasing taxes.
“That goes for all other industries, whether its alcohol, we’ve seen it. People pushing their agendas to protect their industry and their business.”
Meantime, Commissioner Paul said Golden Borough Ltd is the second cigarette manufacturer in PNG.
“Everything that they’ve imported and are producing is recorded in our systems. So we know what’s happening in the business.
“However, if they have done something that is not correct and according to our findings, if it’s not right, we will deal with them according to our laws.”
(From left: Director of the Customs’ Internal Affairs Division, Brian Lillywhite, Senior Advising Officer – Litigation, Fred Katu, and Customs Chief Commissioner, Ray Paul)