Vat­i­can to stop sell­ing cig­a­rettes

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

es­ti­mated €10m a year to the Vat­i­can City State and are the sec­ond-most im­por­tant source of in­come af­ter taxfree gas sales. The book, how­ever, also re­ported that the boom­ing to­bacco sales were an ex­am­ple of how the Vat­i­can’s tax-free com­mer­cial ac­tiv­i­ties were be­ing abused.

With Italy’s VAT sales tax at 22 per­cent, any­one who can get their hands on a cov­eted Vat­i­can “com­mer­cial card” does so since it gives them ac­cess to a world of high-end, tax-free shop­ping. With it, lucky card­hold­ers can buy their weekly gro­ceries at the Vat­i­can su­per­mar­ket, fill their tank at the Vat­i­can gas sta­tion, get a pre­scrip­tion filled at the Vat­i­can phar­macy, and do their Christ­mas shop­ping at the Vat­i­can’s de­part­ment store — all duty free.

And the pick­ings are ex­cel­lent: Cuban cigars, Sam­sung flat-screen TVs, pres­ti­gious wine so soughtafter that the Vat­i­can con­sis­tently tops the list of high­est per-capita wine con­sump­tion in the world.

Only Vat­i­can em­ploy­ees, re­tirees and res­i­dents, ac­cred­ited diplo­mats and mem­bers of re­li­gious con­gre­ga­tions have the right to a “com­mer­cial card” — a num­ber that Ernst & Young es­ti­mated in 2013 should not ex­ceed a few thou­sand peo­ple given that the Vat­i­can em­ploys around 5 000 peo­ple. And yet, ac­cord­ing to the E&Y au­dit re­ported in Avarice, 41 000 “com­mer­cial cards” were in use.

Card­hold­ers are lim­ited to buy­ing 80 boxes of cig­a­rettes a year but the au­dit found that 278 clients ex­ceeded the limit that year.

The book, writ­ten by jour­nal­ist Emil­iano Fit­ti­paldi, hy­poth­e­sised that card­hold­ers were re­selling their cig­a­rettes un­der the ta­ble and mak­ing a hand­some, un­re­ported profit.

In its state­ment, the Vat­i­can said while its cig­a­rette sales rep­re­sented a source of rev­enue “no profit can be le­git­i­mate if it puts lives at risk”.

For the record, Fran­cis doesn’t smoke but plenty of his Vat­i­can col­leagues do. And while the Vat­i­can of­fi­cially banned smok­ing in nearly all en­closed places in 2002, vi­o­la­tions abound.— AP.

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