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30.11.2004 Business & Finance

CEPS destroys smuggled, unwholesome cigarettes

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Accra, Nov. 30, GNA - The Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) on Tuesday destroyed a large quantity of smuggled and unwholesome cigarettes worth more than 804.480 million cedis.

The cigarettes, which were seized during special operations, were crushed and buried at the refuse dump at Oblogo, near Mallam in Accra. The destroyed cigarettes, comprising various foreign brands like the London King Size, Bond, Malboro Light and the Dunhill, were intercepted at different stations including Aflao, Ho, Bolgatanga, Kumasi and Accra in 2003 and 2004.

Mr Jacob Thompson, Senior Collector in Charge of Re-Examination, CEPS, said the cigarettes being destroyed had not been certified by the Ghana Standards Board and did not have the Ministry of Health's warning. He explained that it was illegal to smuggle cigarettes under the PNDC Law 330 Section 243 and anyone caught could be jailed for a period of up to five years and pay 300 per cent penalty on the value of the excise and import duty evaded.

"In addition to this the person is required to pay the excise duty of 140 per cent and import duty of 20 per cent," he said. He said due to these measures, most of the smugglers abandoned their goods and fled.

CEPS has embarked on a nation-wide campaign to stop the sale of smuggled and counterfeit goods including cigarettes.

Mr Thompson said smuggled and counterfeit trade in cigarettes posed a treat to local manufacturers and reduced their volumes and profitability, leading to loss of jobs and government revenue.

He noted that since the tobacco industry in Ghana was the single largest source of government's revenue and provided both direct and indirect employment to over 20,000 Ghanaians, it was necessary that they were protected to enhance their productivity and contribution to the economy.

British American Tobacco Ghana (BAT) paid 221.7 billion cedis as tax in 2003, he said.

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