Counterfeiting and Smuggling: Time to Safeguard the Rights
Counterfeit trade has been attracting considerable attention of trade associations, the government and enterprises. FICCI-CASCADE (Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying Economy) organized a seminar in Kolkata on 'Combating Counterfeiting and Smuggling – An Imperative to Accelerate Economic Development' on 5 June 2018. Mayank Jalan, Chairman, FICCI – West Bengal State Council & CMD, Keventer Agro Ltd., highlighted that counterfeiting and smuggling adversely impacted industries, consumers, government and economies as a whole.
Sadhan Pande, Minister in Charge, Consumer Affairs Department, Government of West Bengal, stated that counterfeiting was a major problem in India, which was affecting government revenues particularly the indirect taxes. In West Bengal, the minister cited examples of counterfeit products such as tea, cream, which were finding their way to the retail market owing to their low prices. He observed that, among other products, illicit trade in cigarettes was a concern area in the state. Appreciating FICCI-CASCADE's initiative in leading the drive against the illicit trade menace, he assured the support of his government in the campaign and invited industry stakeholders to actively partake in addressing this challenge.
PC Jha, Adviser, FICCI-CASCADE & Former Chairman, Central Board of Excise and Customs, pointed out that counterfeiting was the biggest scourge impairing the world economy, accounting for almost 10 per cent of global trade. Elaborating on the magnitude of the problem, Jha informed that in India the total loss to the government with respect to just seven items, as per a FICCICASCADE study estimates, had increased steeply from INR26,190 crore to INR39,239 crore.
The seminar also included a panel discussion on 'Countering the Menace of Counterfeiting and Smuggling – Resolutions and Solutions'. Deep Chand, Adviser, FICCI-CASCADE and Former Special Commissioner of Delhi Police, observed, 'Eight to 15 per cent of global GDP is impacted due to illicit trade and criminal activities. It is time that we, as a national and as part of the global economy, call for stern and resolute counterstrike force against such ill-intentioned activities.'
Deepankar Aron, Additional Director General, DRI, Zonal Unit Kolkata, underlined that smuggling had highly deleterious impact on the economy. To counter them, DRI detects fraudulent schemes and takes initiatives by building synergy between DRI, police, industry bodies and judiciary. He informed that his department had seized counterfeit and smuggled products worth INR 350 crore apart from gold and drugs in the last financial year.
Bibhav Pradhan, Regional Legal Manager East, Hindustan Unilever Ltd., emphasized on the aspects of IPC provisions, copyright infringement laws, court orders and police actions in combating counterfeiting and smuggling. He stressed on the need for awareness and advocacy to counter smuggling and counterfeiting.
Mala Banerjee, President, Federation of Consumer Associations, West Bengal, observed that counterfeiting and smuggling continued to thrive globally due to the consumers' increasing inclination towards branded products. The lower costs of such illicit items and the lack of awareness on the harmful impact of consuming such products add to this menace. She emphasized on the need for stakeholders to join hands in duly educating consumers and to jointly work towards addressing this widespread problem.
Harish Agarwal, Co-Chairman, FICCI–West Bengal State Council & Partner, Ernst & Young LLP, emphasized that illicit trade was one of the biggest threats facing brand owners, threatening profits, corporate reputation and, most importantly, customer safety.
Mayank Jalan, Chairman, FICCI-West Bengal State Council & CMD, Keventer Agro Ltd., presenting a green certificate to Sadhan Pande, Minister in Charge, Consumer Affairs Department, Self-help Group and Self-employment Department, Government of West Bengal.