Illicit cigarette trading alone is causing the PNG economy K250 million in lost revenue annually.
This is according British American Tobacco (BAT) director Naved Manzoor, who says the repercussions of the illegal trade have already had huge impacts in both the social and economic sectors.
To rectify this issue, a memorandum of agreement (MOA) was signed yesterday in Port Moresby between the tobacco giant and the Royal PNG Constabulary to combat this crime.
Mr Manzoor said the lost revenue should be helping the industry and government.
“When the money is not coming in through the right channel both the industry and the government is being depressed,” Mr Manzoor said.
“The more serious thing is the social aspect. From our experience from across the world, we are seeing that this illicit money which is supposed to be diverted to the economy has been used to conduct illegal activities.
“This MOA is crucial for the interest of the public and public private partnership (PPP) and this is just the beginning. We hope this will help us embark on a journey where we make Papua New Guinea free from all these criminal activities and will encourage participation from all stakeholders,” he said.
Police Commissioner Gary Baki said illicit trade remains a challenge for the RPNGC.
Mr Baki said despite having the trans national crime unit within the department which is in continuous dialogue with other Pacific Island countries, through the sharing of information on people moving illegally or goods being smuggled within the Pacific region, they are still struggling to address this growing issue.
“If we can talk about partnerships with other countries and cannot control what is happening in our country, I think that is a big challenge for us,” Mr Baki said.
“Entering into this MOA gives us a stepping stone now to work together and curb this sale of illicit tobacco in the country which also highlights those who have been brought across the borders or brought into the country through shipments.
“We are obligated to see that we support this intention to curb those issues in the country.”
The MOA will act as a platform for all other stakeholders including relevant law enforcement agencies such as Customs, Treasury, Finance, National Planning, PNGDF (Border Control Land and Sea) Border Development Authority and ICCC to address illicit trade.