Stopping Contraband requires the efforts of all stakeholders


The FDRE Customs Commission in collaboration with Spotlight Communications and Marketing held a discussion with governmental agencies and private sector stakeholders regarding the impact and havoc from contraband as well as challenges in the combat against illegal trade in Ethiopia.
Representatives from the Federal Customs Commission; Customs branch offices of Harar and Dire Dawa, Bureau of Trade and Industry, Health Bureau, Revenue Bureau, law enforcement agents from Police and the Defense force along with stakeholders from the private sector participated in the discussion that was held at the Wonderland Hotel.
Opening the Conference Dineer Ahmed, Head of Harar City Peace & security office, Deputy Officer explained the challenges witnessed in relation to contraband saying that smuggled goods are threats to the growth and development of the country. “Every day we are victimizing children, mothers and the society with poor quality products” He said. He adds; “this is not solely the government’s problem; we should all be doing our part in defining the depth and breadth of the disaster and preventing the issue. We are also happy because the discussion started from the city of Harar”.
Deputy Commissioner of the FDRE Customs Commission, Mulugeta Beyene on his part said that illegal trade is growing from time to time and its ways continue to renovate their nature every time. The Deputy reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to prevent this problem; “ other than the day to day task of the Commission to combat illegal trade, the government is more determined than ever and has established and commenced operation of a National Tasks Force that is led by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Country” said Mulugeta. Deputy Commissioner Mulugeta also reiterated on the need for a concerted effort saying “if we all fight together in all areas of the problem, we can reduce illegal trade significantly”.
The Deputy adds “we can stand against illicit trade doing what is expected from us; that is by bringing contrabandists to justice, by refusing to buy illicit products, and as law enforcement agencies by pushing with our combat against illicit trade; we can protect our families and our siblings from products that have no ingredient or expiry information such as packed foods, medicines, ointments, cosmetics and illicit cigarettes”.
Even though National Tobacco Enterprise is the only company with the monopoly rights to produce and distribute tobacco in Ethiopia; Tobacco remains one of the major illegally imported products in the country. Solomon Haile, head of the anti-illicit-tobacco-trade function in the organization says: “About 40 percent of the country’s tobacco trade is illicit. And in the Eastern part of Ethiopia, 90 percent of the market share is contraband. Hence, this weakens the investment of the taxpaying organization that was privatized two years ago to foreign investors and also reduces the amount of revenue the government should have collected in the form of tax from the legitimate business”.
After thorough discussions on resolutions to combat illicit trade, the half day meeting was concluded with a six-point position statement presented by Federal Customs Commission Deputy Commissioner Mulugeta Beyene and. Bekri Abiyala Harar city Attorney General Office.