SMUGGLED and counterfeit cigarettes are still flooding the market denying the nation billions of money through tax evasion and sabotaging local manufacturers.
Tanzania Cigarette Company in collaboration with the National Environmental Management Council, Tanzania Revenue Authority and the police destroyed contraband and counterfeit cigarettes worth 8.5bn/- in Dar es Salaam last week.
It is expected one of ten cigarettes in the market is illegal and last year the government lost approximately 30bn/- in unpaid taxes, according to the TCC Director for Company Services and Security, Frank Usiri.
“This prompted TRA and police to chip in and managed to seize a lot of consignments in the market,” he said when the smuggled and counterfeit cigarette were being destroyed.
He said contraband cigarettes are those that are meant for export but unscrupulous businesspeople go to those markets especially Zambia and buy back these cigarettes and sell them to the local market hence evading tax.
“These are common at border areas and in other parts of the country where they find their way through the black market,” he said. With counterfeits some business people have set up manufacturing plants and are producing similar products and are not paying tax and also risking people’s lives as the fake products do not meet the required standards, he said.
“These products do not undergo any quality control tests hence are a major risk to consumers,” he said.
“The other thing is if you look at these counterfeits, they all have a batch stamp with the same number while each stamp is supposed to have a different number meaning the government is losing a lot and it is also sabotage to the genuine manufacturers who have invested heavily only for these saboteurs to take advantage,” he said.
He said the destruction process, which was executed by Digital Agencies, would ensure that the seized products do not find way back to the market anymore as the destruction and dumping process is authorized by NEMC and a certificate issued to show that the products are no longer legible for consumption.