Raipur, Jan 10 (SocialNews.XYZ) Amarjeet Bhagat, Minister of Food, Civil Supply and Consumer Protection, Planning Economic and Statistics, Culture, Chhattisgarh government has said that the rapid growth of technology has led to a drastic increase in economic crimes and cybercrimes.
He added that illicit trade activities are the major barriers in the path of economic growth of the country. Over the years, the government has initiated several mechanisms to ensure consumer safety and check unfair trade practices, there is an urgent need for increased consumer awareness to tackle this problem, he stated.
Addressing the FICCI CASCADE (Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy) programme on 'Preventive Strategies to Combat Counterfeiting and Smuggling', Bhagat said that consumers must understand the multi-faceted complexities of this menace. He further urged FICCI CASCADE to frequently organise such awareness programmes to make the public aware of the importance of effectively tackling counterfeiting and smuggling.
Topeshwar Verma, Secretary, Department of Food, Civil Supply and Consumer Protection, Technical Education and Employment, Government of Chhattisgarh said, "Illicit activities such as smuggling and counterfeiting are global problems of enormous scale, impacting all stakeholders such as consumers, industry, government and society as a whole."
He urged all stakeholders to join hands to collectively fight the menace of illicit trade. Verma emphasized on the need to take a bill on every purchase, as it acts as evidence of transaction.
P.C. Jha, Advisor, FICCI CASCADE and Former Chairman, Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs said, "Illicit trade is of grave concern, it undermines the nation's economy, damages brand integrity, and most importantly affects health and safety of the citizens which needs to be addressed on an urgent basis. During the last 20 years, the volume of counterfeiting activity globally has increased 100 times and the size of trade is 10 per cent of the legal international trade (around 2 per cent of the world's overall economic output). The problem of illicit trade is much more serious than it is commonly perceived."
Abhijit Pati, Chairman, FICCI Chhattisgarh State Council and CEO & Director BALCO (Vedanta Group) said, "In the past ten years the magnitude of illicit trade has grown from USD 650 billion to about USD 3 trillion, representing 10 per cent of the global trade and rightly been termed as the crime of the 21st century by the FBI." There is a need for concerted effort by all stakeholders to ensure that an effective and workable deterrence is created, added.
The Minister also felicitated the students for the inter-school/college competition organised on Monday by FICCI CASCADE on the theme 'Role of Youth in Making India Free from Smuggling & Counterfeiting'. The competition witnessed enthusiastic participation of over 450 students from various educational institutions of Chhattisgarh.
The seminar discussed the importance of increased awareness on the hazards of counterfeiting and smuggling, and the need for effective enforcement to enhance India's economic development.
The market for contraband and smuggled goods is thriving in India and is today one of the biggest challenges faced by the Indian industry. The country is witnessing widespread smuggling in various product categories such as gold, cigarettes, cosmetics, medicines, jewellery, readymade garments, alcohol, capital goods and consumer electronics, which is severely hurting the country's economy. The smugglers use states like Chhattisgarh to transit illicit goods from northeastern and coastal states to the rest of the Indian market.
FICCI has set up a committee CASCADE, with the participation of leading industries from all sectors of the economy to raise awareness against this issue and work with government and other agencies to fight the menace.
The seminar also deliberated on FICCI CASCADE's recent report titled 'Illicit Markets: A Threat to Our National Interests', which examines the impact of illicit trade in five key industries in India -- Mobile Phones, FMCG-Household and Personal Goods, FMCG-Packaged Foods, Tobacco Products, and Alcoholic Beverages.
According to the report, the size of illicit market in the above-mentioned industries was Rs 2,60,094 crore for the year 2019-20, with the FMCG industry -- household and personal goods, and packaged foods -- together accounting for 3/4th of the total illicit value of goods in five key industries.