20th May 2023| Kochi
Identifying the significance of awareness and outreach in formulating a proactive approach to combat the mounting threat of counterfeiting and smuggling, FICCI CASCADE organized a seminar titled “Preventive Strategies to Combat Counterfeiting and Smuggling” on May 20, 2023, at Hotel Gateway by Taj in Kochi. The winners of the Youth Awareness programme organized on 19th May at Chinmaya Vidalaya were also felicitated during the seminar.
Shri. P Rajeeve, Hon’ble Minister of Commerce and Industry, Government of Kerala was the chief guest at the seminar. While addressing the programme, he stated that the problem of counterfeiting and smuggling represents a colossal global issue that exerts its influence across virtually all industry sectors on a worldwide scale. It erodes the lawful competitive advantage held by rightful owners, impeding innovation, employment opportunities, and the sustainable economic growth of the nation.
Shri Rajeeve mentioned that it is important for consumers to comprehend the complexities of this problem. The youth, as the consumers of tomorrow, possess the power to inspire and drive the necessary change through their choices and behaviors. To combat this global scourge, it is imperative to prioritize education and awareness initiatives that shed light on the detrimental consequences of counterfeiting and smuggling.
Speaking on the topic ‘Outlining the landscape of illicit trade practices – Analysis & Implications’, Mr. P C Jha, Advisor, FICCI CASCADE and Former Chairman, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) highlighted the detrimental effects of illicit trade on the economy, environment, and public health and safety. He expressed concern over the escalating nature of this criminal activity, fueled by high profits and low risks. This alarming trend of counterfeit and smuggled goods in the market poses significant threats to India’s economic growth. As India assumes the G20 Presidency, Mr. Jha emphasized the urgent need to eradicate this menace from its core, paving the way for a new and prosperous India.
The panel discussion on policies to prevent counterfeiting and smuggling featured distinguished panelists, including Mr. Rajendra Kumar, Commissioner of Customs (Preventive), Kochi and Mr. K Sethu Raman IPS, IGP & Commissioner of Police, Police Commissionerate, Kochi City who shared their valuable insights on this serious issue.
Mr. Kumar stated that customs play a pivotal role in upholding border control, acquiring intelligence, performing risk assessments, fostering stakeholder collaboration, and enhancing public awareness as part of its mission to effectively combat smuggling and counterfeiting. In the year 2022-23, Kerala customs successfully handled 810 cases, leading to the seizure of a significant quantity of 630 kg of gold, with an estimated value of 311 crores. Additionally, Kerala customs also filed 123 cases of smuggled cigarettes, worth Rs. 329 lacs, informed Mr. Kumar.
Mr. Raman opined that there has been a significant shift in smuggling and counterfeiting practices over the past decade, largely due to the rise of the digital economy. This transformation has posed a considerable challenge for police investigations, as it has led to an increase in cyber fraud incidents. Each month, hundreds of complaints related to such crimes are being reported. Furthermore, the advancements in technology have given rise to new types of financial products, such as bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
Mr. Deep Chand, Advisor, FICCI CASCADE and Former Special Commissioner of Police, New Delhi, highlighted that smuggling and counterfeiting are a major threat to the economy and is a hindrance for a globalized world. The efforts of Kerala in this regard are applaudable. It has been effectively dealing with the challenge through policies targeted at curbing counterfeiting and smuggling. The enforcement department of the state should also be credited for taking quick action in resolving the problem and seizing illegal products. However, to get to the root of the problem, widespread consumer awareness is required and the public needs to be sensitized on the gravity of the situation.
Adv. Vizzy George, High Court of Kerala accentuated that to effectively address the challenges posed by counterfeiting and smuggling, it is fundamental to adopt and implement best practices that enhance legislative policies. It is of utmost importance for trade bodies like FICCI to urge the government to establish a robust legislative framework to eradicate this growing menace.
Mr. Bibu Punnooran, Chair, FICCI Health Care Sub Committee and Director, Medivision Scan & Diagnostic Research Centre Pvt Ltd mentioned that illicit trade stifles market growth, undermines global supply chains, depletes natural resources, and poses a threat to market security. He emphasized the criticality of addressing illicit trade as a top priority due to its severe consequences. The other distinguished panelists who contributed their valuable insights on the subject were Mr. Gopa Kumar, Chief Operating Officer, Bhima Jewellers, Mr. Antony Kottaram, Managing Partner, Kottaram Business Corporation and Mr. Saji MV, CEO, TecQ.
Mr. Savio Mathew, Head, FICCI Kerala State Council proposed a vote of thanks to all the esteemed guests and delegates and mentioned that FICCI CASCADE is actively engaged in raising awareness regarding the substantial risks posed by counterfeiting and smuggling to public health and safety.
The seminar saw a gathering of over 150 industry captains, consumer forum representatives, government officials, and various stakeholders from across sectors.
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