Over 20 Million ‘Tax-evaded’ Cigarettes Sold In J-K

Srinagar – Over 20 million “tax-evaded” cigarettes are sold in the state of Jammu and Kashmir every month which is around 10% of the total cigarette market in J&K. Consequently, the state government suffers an annual revenue loss of about Rs 20 crore.

Similarly, VAT (Value Added Tax) on cigarettes has increased from 13.5% to 30% in last two years (along with Toll Tax of Rs 35/- per kg), thereby, giving an impetus to the inter-state smuggling and illegal trade.

This came to surface at seminar entitled, “Curbing Counterfeiting and Smuggling – An Imperative for Indian Economy”.

“It is in the interest of stable Jammu and Kashmir to combat the menace of counterfeit by launching a multi-pronged and sustained public campaign to create awareness not only in urban but rural areas as well”. This was stated at inaugural speech by Governor Jammu and Kashmir, N. N. Vohra .

Without naming Pakistan, governor said fake currency is being pumped into India to destabilise not its economy but it poses a serious threat to the National Security. He added that Jammu and Kashmir is already faced with serious problems of terrorist networks being funded through the circulation of fake Indian currency.

He also said counterfeiting and smuggling adversely affect the rights and interests of individuals, damage the interests of growers, producers, manufacturers and traders, and cause loss of revenue to the public exchequer.

The governor stressed on the need to protect consumer rights, “Harsh punishment should be rolled to ensure consumer protection,” Vohra said.

In his Key note address, minister for Science and Information Technology, Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi, said, “The problem of counterfeit is threatening the global economy and state of Jammu and Kashmir is no exception”.

He said that the counterfeit products not only cause loss to the State exchequer but the consumers also do not get the genuine products.

He emphasized the need for trade, industry, commerce, media fraternity, law enforcing agencies and the society at large joining hands to deal with this issue.

Advisor, FICCI-CASCADE, Deep Chand, said “counterfeiting, smuggling and piracy are increasing at alarming rate”.

He said the menace has grown by 1000 per cent in 20 years, “At present the market of counterfeiting is at $ 650 billion and it will double in the year 2015”.

During power point presentation, President Synergia Foundation, Tobby Simon said counterfeiting is conduit for generating funds for terrorism. “Al Qaeda camps focus on counterfeiting operations as a means to replace revenue lost as a result of sanctions”, said Simon.

Speaking on the occasion, Justice B A Kirmani said, “On paper there may be district forums for consumer rights but in reality they don’t exist. As result, menace of counterfeiting is borne by the customer”.

During the welcome speech, President of Kashmir chamber of Commerce and Industries, Abdul Hamid Punjabi said counterfeiting operations has parasistic effect. “It tarnishes the image of the branded products”.

He also said handicraft sector is the worst affected sector of counterfeiting, “To curb this menace we have launched policy of Save Kashmiri Hanicrafts,” added Punjabi.

Talking about the limitation of law force agencies, Inspector General of Police, Crime Branch, J&K Abdul Ghani Mir said, “Too many laws and too many agencies to enforce them leads to confusion and lack of coordination”.

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