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PNG Customs responds to counterfeit cigarette production

By Rayon Lakingu – EMTV News, Port Moresby

The Papua New Guinea Customs Services has called on the public to respect the role of all government agencies in the country. This was in response to the alleged illegal cigarette smuggling, production and distribution from a warehouse at Kennedy Estate, discovered by the National Drug and Vice squad.

In a media conference on Tuesday, PNG Customs Chief, Ray Paul, said Customs as a regulator, works to see all businesses operating within the country’s laws.

The Customs Chief said they are aware the company possessed an import warehousing license to bond imported cigarettes, adding that they (counterfeit manufacturers) have been paying legislated taxes since their operations began eight years ago.

PNG Customs Service, a revenue collecting agency, has a duty to increase its revenue base from existing tax payers, as well as issuing license to new payers.

Mr Paul said they are also faced with many challenges, and they are working on strategies to address those challenges. one of those – man power. PNG Customs Director for Internal Affairs, Brian Lillywhite, said there are about 485 customs officials in the country.

He said there are ongoing investigations of illegal operations, and many workers found to have been implicated have been terminated. He also urged the public to respect the work of PNG Customs.

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