Press release – FITA – for immediate release
We commend the continued efforts of both the South African Revenue Service (“SARS”) and the South African Police Service (“SAPS”) in ensuring that compliance risks in the tobacco industry along the value chain are kept at a minimum. The detention of a truck containing 1166 cases of cigarettes worth more than R 11 million excluding profit margins (Excise R 8 330.00 + VAT = R 9579.50 x 1166 = R 11 169 697.00), and not over R 1 million as reported in the media, is a step in the right direction but merely a tip of the iceberg in as far as eliminating the scourge of illicit cigarettes which affects our members as businesses operating in South Africa.
We have communicated this ad nauseam to the relevant authorities and are pleased that something is now being done about this issue. We however wish to point out that the lack of visibility of SARS customs officials on the ground has led to a substantial growth in the influx of smuggled tobacco products into the Republic of South Africa via inter alia our porous borders.
As an organisation we understand the capacity challenges that SARS faces however, as concerned and legitimate manufacturers of tobacco products, we urge SARS and law enforcement agencies to attend to this issue which is robbing the fiscus of billions without further delay.
Many of these brands which are being smuggled into the country are either counterfeits of inter alia FITA member brands or legitimate brands manufactured in our neighbouring countries for sale and consumption in those countries. In this regard we are gathering the necessary information to counter this criminal conduct, which information we pass on to the relevant authorities as and when it becomes available.
We have also requested from SARS and inter alia the SAPS that their officials have a bigger presence in the market as we have no doubt that they will have no difficulty in picking many of these products up, and which products retail for next to nothing.
Issued by the Fair-trade Independent Tobacco Association: 2 September 2019
For queries kindly contact Monique Vogel t: 072 720 7919; e: Monique@fita.co.za