Industry chamber FICCI's arm on Wednesday said illicit trade has emerged as one of the most formidable challenges before the nation, especially during the current coronavirus pandemic which has led to an economic distress.
FICCI's Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy (CASCADE) said several cases of smuggling of goods such as gold, cigarettes, liquor have been reported amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The perpetrators of illicit trade are always looking at innovative ways to deceive the system to carry out their activities. This deeply harms the economic interests of the nation and the society ends up paying a huge cost," FICCI CASCADE Chairman Anil Rajput said in a statement.
Asking policy makers to treat illicit trade as a "national threat", FICCI CASCADE said, "illicit trade has emerged as one of the most formidable challenges before our nation, especially during the current pandemic which has led to an economic distress."
Citing instances of the recent seizures of smuggled cigarettes at New Delhi Railway station, Mumbai and Hyderabad; and gold in Kerala, FICCI CASCADE said, "not only does smuggling dent the government exchequer, by creating opportunities from tax arbitrage, but also threatens local industries on which livelihoods of many depend."
Rajput said while the recent efforts of enforcement officers are laudable, the government cannot afford to let the guard go down.
"At a time when the country is already dealing with the coronavirus triggered financial stress, it is even more important that the government maintains strict vigil to ensure that these offenders are kept at bay," he said.