​Deal inked to combat contraband

​The Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary has entered into an agreement with the British American Tobacco to combat the influx of contraband and illegal cigarettes entering PNG markets.

The agreement paves way for private and public sectors to work together to curb this illegal flow of fake and contraband cigarettes reaching the shores of the country.

Operators of illegal tobacco do not pay taxes, which can be seen with packets of cigarettes being sold for as low as K10 in retail shops.

This basically means that they are not paying their taxes to the people of this country and are stealing from the government.

In a memorandum of agreement signing that took place at the Police Headquarters in Port Moresby, Commissioner for Police, Gari Baki, said the MoA aims to deal with transnational crimes.

Baki said it has been a very big challenge for the force and at the moment, the RPNGC is also doing joint patrols along the borders with the help of the Australian partners.

“Entering into an agreement with British American Tobacco now gives us a stepping stone for us to work together to curb the sale of illegal tobacco in the country and we look forward to the challenges that also come with the signing of this MoA.”

Director for British American Tobacco, Naved Manzoor, in agreement with the Police Commissioner, thanked the RPNGC for their support towards this binding agreement.

Manzoor said there are two implications of illicit trade, first is the economic implication and second is social implications.

He said economic implications based on BAT’s calculations, almost K250 million which should have been shared between the industry and government as tax is being lost through the illegal entry of tobacco.

“Huge amounts of money are not coming through the proper channel so the industry and government is being deprived.”

He adds that the most serious thing are the social implications where it is noted the illicit flow of cash  for the country is going to part of the economy where criminal activities are known to exist.

“This can create serious social consequences for the sovereignty of the country.”

In that aspect, the MoA is extremely crucial, showing interest and confidence in public and private partnership with hope that the partnership continues on with other government agencies further down the line to stop illicit tobaccos coming in to the country.

Annette Kora