Klikor, March 08, GNA - The Aflao collection point of the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) on Tuesday destroyed about 452 master cases of cigarettes seized from smugglers within its operational area.
Total cost of the cigarettes, which were mainly of the Excellence brand, was 726,724,108 million cedis, with the duty element estimated at 1.3 billion cedis.
Other items destroyed included 5,339 cakes of banned medicated soap worth 5,863,972 million cedis, 70 cartons of expired biscuits costing 2,825,201.
The rest are a quantity of mosquito coils, assorted drugs including supposed sexual performance enhancers, eight sacks of marijuana and soft drinks.
The arrival of the fully loaded articulated truck and a minibus at the disposal site at Klikor in the Ketu District attracted scores of people from villages around the area, some with spades and other implements waiting for the opportunity to scramble for the items. Crowds massing around the site for the burning gave the few CEPS armed personnel a hectic time when the minibus arrived with the second trip of the items.
However, the CEPS and Environmental Health Officials at the site did a thorough job, torching and making sure the items were burned and unrecoverable.
"The last time we were here for a similar exercise, the locals charged on us and managed to recover some of the items while it was burning, but this time we would make sure we do a thorough job," Mr John Dickson Ametepi, Assistant Chief Environmental Officer at Aflao who supervised the exercise, told the Ghana News Agency. A representative of the British American Tobacco (BTA) expressed concern about the increasing spate of smuggling of cigarettes into the country.
He said the current 140 per cent excise duty paid by BAT on cigarettes had made the product uncompetitive in the sub-regional market.
The source said investigations had revealed that several cartons of cigarettes meant for Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone were finding their way into Ghana through the northeastern borders of the country. Mr William Adzraku, Senior Collector of CEPS, said the smuggled cigarettes were either legal brands of other countries within the low tariff regime or counterfeits made under unhygienic conditions.