Wednesday, May 27, 2009

There ought to be better ways to handle illegal cigarette (To destroy over S$5M worth of confiscated cigarettes? Argh...)

Over S$5m worth of illegal cigarettes were destroyed each month! Yes, you're reading it right. What a waste indeed--not just the valuable cigarettes, but also the cost of destroying them.

This has to be what they call as a loss-loss situation. So if you're to make it as a loss-win scenario (loss for the smuggler, and win for the government), how would you handle the confiscated contraband cigarettes?

You sell them, of course. Hey, the government would have another source of revenue! And smugglers might think twice to bring in the cigarettes illegally (Why should they enrich the government, they'd have thought) or might think more ingenious ways to smuggle the items (Which in turn is good for the police enforcement as they will learn more when they foil the smuggling operation.)

Over S$5 million worth of contraband cigarettes go up in smoke at the Tuas Incineration Plant each month.

Over 4.5 million packets of illegal cigarettes were seized by Singapore Customs last year.

The illegal cigarettes are first stored under tight security at the Singapore Customs Warehouse. Once forfeited by the court, they are transported to the Tuas Incineration Plant where they are crushed and burnt under the watchful eyes of officials.

And because of the sheer volume of cigarettes seized, the operation takes place every month. In fact, since the start of the year, Singapore Customs has seized over 1.5 million packets.

In this month alone, over five tonnes or the equivalent of 250,000 packets of illegal cigarettes will be destroyed.

Buying, selling, or dealing with contraband cigarettes are serious offences under the Customs and GST Act, and the authorities have adopted a multi-pronged approach to fight the trade.

Victor Seah, deputy head, corporate communications, Singapore Customs, said: "We have strong investigative efforts to combat cigarette smuggling. We conduct daily inspection checks island-wide to stamp out the smoking and buying and peddling of illegal cigarettes.

"And more importantly, we organise community engagement road-shows to raise public awareness on the need to fight against illegal cigarettes among the public."

Anyone found in possession of a packet of duty-unpaid cigarettes, faces a minimum fine of S$500 or prosecution in court. Vehicles used in the commission of such offences are also liable to be forfeited.

From Channel NewsAsia, "Over S$5m worth of illegal cigarettes destroyed each month".

No comments: