Illicit Tobacco Market Share Rises to 90Pct in East Ethiopia

The illicit tobacco market share rises to 90Pct of overall consumption in eastern parts of Ethiopia, posing a significant threat on tax revenues and the safety and health of individuals, Customs Commission says. While calling for targeted action at a local level to reduce the impact of the illicit trade, the Commission said about 40Pct of the country’s tobacco trade is illicit.

“This weakens the investment of the taxpaying organization [National Tobacco Enterprise], which was privatized two years ago to foreign investors, and also reduces the amount of revenue the government should have collected in the form of tax from the legitimate business,” said Solomon Haile, Head of the Anti Illicit Trade Department at National Tobacco Enterprise.

On January 16, 2020, Customs Commission, in collaboration with Spotlight Communication and Marketing, held a discussion with governmental agencies and private sector stakeholders over the impact and havoc from contraband as well as challenges in the combat against illegal trade in Ethiopia.

During the discussion, Dineer Ahmed, Head of Harar City Peace and security office, explained that smuggled goods are threats to the growth and development of the country. “Every day we are victimizing children, mothers and the society with poor quality products” he said. “This is not solely the government’s problem; we should all be doing our part in defining the depth and breadth of the disaster and preventing the issue.”

Deputy Commissioner of the Customs Commission, Mulugeta Beyene, on his part, said that illegal trade is growing from time to time and is increasingly becoming sophisticated.

“Beyond the daily task of the Commission to combat illegal trade, the government is more determined than ever to eliminate illicit trade. We have established and commenced operation of a National Tasks Force that is led by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Country” said Mulugeta who reiterated on the need for a concerted effort against illicit trade activities.  “If we all fight together in all areas of the problem, we can reduce illegal trade significantly”.



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