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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Smuggling activities on the wane in Tuticorin and neighbouring regions

Smuggling activities have been on the decline in Tamil Nadu over the past decade or so following a cut in the import duty on gold and electronic goods in the post-liberalisation era.

According to Central Excise and Customs Department officials, smuggling activities were now largely confined to narcotic substances and illegal dealings in gold or electronic goods were no longer lucrative.

“If at all anyone tries to smuggle valuable commodities like gold, they will be doing it at their own risk because the profit that they get for the smuggled goods is not worth the risk they take. The smuggling activities will be near zero by 2008-2009, when India also reduces its import duty to make it on a par with the ASEAN import duty, to enable free trade of foreign-origin products in the country,” a senior official from the Anti-Smuggling squad of Central Excise and Customs told this website’s newspaper.

According to him, clauses for two types of import restrictions, namely the Trade Restriction and Tariff Restriction, would be eased further and many products, which at present were in the banned or restricted import list, would be allowed for free import and tariff restriction slabs, as in the case of import of foreign cars.

“In this scenario, the smugglers will have no other option than to look for other means of earning money. Narcotics is the only product which still tops the priority list of smugglers. However, Tamil Nadu is not yet the favourable transit route of narcotics smugglers when compared to other metros like Mumbai and Kolkatta, the official said.

“Tamil Nadu has been a transit point for heroin smuggling to Sri Lanka. Only a negligible quantity of heroin has been smuggled to the State for domestic consumption. This, actually, cannot be called smuggling as the contraband has been largely brought for the individual consumption. But I am not saying that there is no commercial selling of heroin here, but it is very minimal,” he added.

The Anti-Smuggling Squad of the Central Excise and Customs, along with the Narcotics Control Bureau and Coast Guard, had been maintaining vigil on major focus areas like Tuticorin, Ramanathapuram and Rameshwaram, apart from city airports to curtail narcotics smuggling to Sri Lanka.

When pointed out that smuggling of used cars had been taking place despite restrictions, the official said, in Tamil Nadu they had not booked many cases relating to undeclared import of used foreign cars.

“There are a few people who import used cars after paying the high customs duty and sell them here for a better margin. The business involved in this is very simple. Used cars are available very cheap, many times for less than Rs. one lakh in foreign countries. Even if they pay the high import duty they can sell it for a better price here. The demand for such cars is also high in the market because of our craze on foreign cars”, the official said.

Source: NewIndPress

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