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India's march to a $40 trillion economy under Amrit Kaal can be seized by smuggling: FICCI CASCADE

Feb 10, 2023

  • Calls for declaring February 11 as the 'International Anti-Smuggling Day' by the United Nations
  • Appeal to the Indian Government to lead an international concerted initiative against smuggling
  • Tax loss to Govt of India from illicit trade has jumped by 163% over 10-years

NEW DELHI, 10 February 2023: The FICCI Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Destroying the Economy (CASCADE) has urged the government to launch a robust international campaign against the menace of smuggling. It said that the magnitude of smuggling and the consequent loss to the country's economy might become a roadblock in India's march towards a $ 40 trillion economy under the Government's vision of Amrit Kaal. While last year FICCI CASCADE took the initiative to mark 11th February as Anti-Smuggling Day, the body is appealing to the Indian government to highlight the issue of smuggling on the world stage and work with the United Nations to declare this as an 'International Anti-Smuggling Day'.

The significance of the need for a high-impact international campaign against smuggling can be understood in the context of the massive loss that smuggling inflicts on the Indian economy. As per a 2022 FICCI CASCADE's study titled - 'Illicit Markets: A Threat to Our National Interests', over a period of 10 years, the tax loss to the Government of India because of the illicit trade has jumped by 163% to reach a mammoth Rs 58,521 crore (from Rs. 22,230 crore) for 5 key industries - Alcoholic Beverages, Mobile Phones, FMCG-Household and Personal Goods, FMCG-Packaged Foods and Tobacco Products. In the same period tax loss because of the illicit trading in two highly regulated and taxed industries - alcohol and tobacco products has jumped by 227%. In the FMCG category, Packaged Foods and Household & Personal Goods, the loss witnessed an increase by 162% during the same period. The overall size of the illicit market in this 10-year period has swelled to a whopping Rs. 2,60,094 crore.

With a view to highlight the issue internationally, FICCI CASCADE is of the view that this campaign should be driven from the top-most level of the government - from the Prime Minister's Office. A concerted effort must be made to put the issue of smuggling on the agenda of the UN General Assembly. India should also forge together the interests of similar developing countries such as Indonesia, Brazil and the Philippines which are facing the impact of smuggling. Apart from the UN, India can and should also highlight smuggling in other global platforms like the G20.

Mr. P C Jha, Former Chairman, CBIC (Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs) and Adviser- FICCI CASCADE said, "Given the massive damage that smuggling is inflicting on the Indian economy, the government has to take up the issue at the international stage and lead a campaign against it. So far, the government and its enforcement agencies have been doing commendable work to check smuggling into the country. To bolster the present efforts, now different ministries need to come together to highlight the issue on the international stage. For example, the Ministry of External Affairs can put up smuggling as a discussion agenda in international platforms like the UN General Assembly while the Ministry of Finance can provide information about the actual impact of smuggling on the economy based on in-depth studies to substantiate such discussions."

Mr. Anil Rajput, Chairman, FICCI CASCADE said, "While we will continue to highlight the issue of smuggling in the country, an International Anti-Smuggling Day declared by the UN will enable momentum to an international campaign against smuggling by bringing together nations - both developing and developed, international institutions, policymakers, industry, enforcement agencies and media. It will highlight the growing hazard of smuggling and create awareness amongst consumers and the youth to mitigate smuggling which has now become an obstacle to nation-building,"

On the occasion of the second Anti-Smuggling Day, FICCI CASCADE is organizing a conference in New Delhi on 11th February 2023. The conference will feature several senior functionaries from leading international organisations, such as World Customs Organization (WCO), United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), US Homeland Security and Australian Border Force. Senior officials from Government of India will also speak at the event representing the Department of Revenue (Ministry of Finance), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, National Investigation Agency, Border Security Force, Indian Coast Guard and the Appellate Tribunal for SAFEMA - Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act, 1976. The conference will also host two insightful panel discussions in which distinguished Indian and international experts will discuss ways on strengthening the global strategy to combat smuggling and fostering national security and economic development by mitigating smuggling.

Smuggling has been termed as the crime of the 21st century as it continues to grow across the globe into a lucrative proposition for some, at the cost of causing significant losses for the consumers, industry, society and governments and more so for developing countries. It is upon countries like India that can leverage its global standing to bring out the necessary coordination and collaboration amongst various countries to create awareness, fight and mitigate this global problem that poses serious threat both to security and economy.

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