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Illicit Trade Poses Grave Threat to India's Economy and Public Safety:  Anoop Birtharay, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Jharkhand 

Jul 07, 2023

RANCHI, 07 July 2023: Addressing the 'Capacity Building Programme for Police Officers on Prevention of Counterfeiting and Smuggling,' organised by FICCI's Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy (CASCADE), Mr Anoop Birtharay, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Jharkhand, highlighted the adverse effects of illicit trade on India's legitimate economic activity. Mr Birtharay emphasised the urgent need for enhanced capacity-building programs to equip law enforcement agencies with the necessary skills, infrastructure, and technology to combat the escalating threats of counterfeiting and smuggling. 

According to Mr Birtharay, illicit trade, including smuggling and counterfeiting, not only deprives the government of crucial revenue for investment in public services but also disrupts millions of legitimate jobs and poses significant risks to public health and safety. In his address, he stated, "Illicit trade in terms of smuggling and counterfeiting are adversely impacting the legitimate economic activity of the country. It deprives the government's revenues for investment in vital public services, dislocating millions of legitimate jobs and causing irreversible damage to public health and safety." 

Recognising the multifaceted nature of the challenge, Mr Birtharay emphasised the importance of coordinated efforts among the government, industry bodies, and law enforcement agencies. He stressed that effective detection and investigation of crimes related to counterfeiting and smuggling require collaboration and a comprehensive approach. 

Mr Deep Chand, Advisor to FICCI CASCADE and Former Special Commissioner of Police, New Delhi, provided an overview of the socio-economic impact of counterfeiting and smuggling. He highlighted the growing intensity of these illegal activities and their significant risk to knowledge-based, open, and globalised economies. Mr Chand emphasised the vital role of the police department in safeguarding national security and economic interests. He stated, "The Police department's role is vital in safeguarding the country's national security and economic interests. This involves preventing criminal organisations from making gains from illegal activities and ensuring that legitimate businesses can operate in a secure and safe environment. This capacity building program is aimed to sensitise the Jharkhand police officers on the importance of continued awareness and seriousness of the impact of counterfeit and smuggled products." 

Mr Chand also referred to a recent report by FICCI CASCADE titled 'Illicit Markets: A Threat to Our National Interests,' which highlights the unlawful trade in key industries such as Mobile Phones, FMCG-Household and Personal Goods, FMCG-Packaged Foods, Tobacco Products, and Alcoholic Beverages. The report estimates the total legitimate employment loss due to illicit trade at 15.96 lakhs. The estimated tax loss to the government due to illicit goods in these industries is Rs 58,521 crore, with two highly regulated and taxed industries, tobacco products, and alcoholic beverages, accounting for nearly 49% of the overall tax loss.  

Mr Avinash Sinha, Regional, Manager, Industry Affairs (East), ITC, said, “Among the illicit & smuggled goods, cigarettes have emerged as one of the most lucrative products, witnessing the highest jump in the recent past, and it accounts for one-third of the legal cigarette market in the country.” He added that it calls for heightened surveillance and stricter enforcement to curb the menace of illegal cigarettes in India. 

Mr Milind Palany, Senior Manager, Global Brand Protection, Southern Asia and ANZ Cluster, Kenvue said, “There is an urgent need for law enforcement agencies to be well-equipped and knowledgeable in safeguarding the end consumers from the inherent dangers associated with Illicit trade and counterfeit products." 

To address the rising issue of counterfeiting and smuggling, over 85 police officers from Jharkhand Police underwent a comprehensive training programme. The capacity-building initiative aimed to equip the officers with in-depth knowledge and effective strategies to combat these illicit activities. The programme, held on 7th July 2023, emphasised the urgent need for law enforcement agencies to stay ahead of the evolving challenges posed by counterfeiting and smuggling, which have global implications. 

FICCI CASCADE has been working closely with the government, industry, enforcement officials, legal fraternity, consumer organisations and the youth to create awareness of the adverse impact of the problem of counterfeiting and smuggling.  Among other activities, FICCI CASCADE has been regularly engaging with law enforcement agencies, including police, customs and paramilitary organisations engaged in border protection, in sensitising them on the gravity of the problem. 

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