Illicit trade casts a shadow on India’s progress towards achieving $ 5 trillion economy: Anurag Thakur

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NEW DELHI, 29 September 2023: Mr Anurag Thakur, Minister for Information & Broadcasting and Youth Affairs & Sports, Govt of India to emphasized that the surge in illicit trade is a troubling consequence of globalization which casts a shadow on our progress toward achieving a 5 trillion-dollar economy. “Illicit trade, whether conducted through activities like smuggling, counterfeiting, or tax evasion, exacts a considerable socio-economic toll. It not only hinders our advancement but also drives up expenses, pushing these crucial goals even further from our reach,” he added.

Addressing the 9th edition of FICCI CASCADE’s ‘MASCRADE 2023’Mr Thakur stated that by addressing the nexus between illicit trade, organized crime and terrorism, we not only protect our economy but also contribute to a safer and more peaceful world. “The fight against illicit trade is not just an economic battle; it is a battle for peace, stability, and the future of our world,” he highlighted.

Speaking on the various initiatives by the government, Mr Thakur said, “We have been enacting laws that not only align with our international commitments but also exhibit a progressive outlook. However, given the intricate and alarming expansion of illicit trade, it underscores the need for enhanced intergovernmental collaborations and public-private partnerships to formulate a comprehensive strategy,” he noted.

The Minister also said that illicit trade is a multi-billion-dollar business with severe economic, social, and environmental impacts, which are especially accentuated during periods of economic downturn. Illicit trade has risen steadily in recent years and the effects of illicit trade are particularly damaging for developing economies. “It is our duty to safeguard our citizens and the world from these threats. To do so, we must strengthen our law enforcement agencies, enhance international cooperation, and enact stringent measures to combat illicit trade at its roots,” he added.

Mr Thakur further stated that with India’s ascent as a formidable global economic force, the imperative of safeguarding the rights of businesses through robust regulations and their vigilant enforcement becomes increasingly intertwined with our nation’s burgeoning global influence. “The intertwined relationship between illicit trade, organized crime and terrorism poses a clear and present danger to global security, making it imperative that we confront this issue head-on. Combating the pervasive social and economic detriments inflicted by illicit trade now stands as an imperative, reflecting India’s steadfast commitment to preserving its hard-earned economic strength and securing a prosperous future,” he added.

Mr Anil Rajput, Chairman, FICCI CASCADE, said, “Illicit trade has been seen mostly from the prism of loss to the exchequer. However, it has many more facets that impact our society. This unscrupulous global business has its tentacles reaching far and wide and compromises the safety and security of nations due to their sinister linkages with organized crime networks and terror financing.”

“Our Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, has been underscoring the need to eliminate the root cause for terror funding. A clear mandate from the highest office of the government makes it evident that India is focused in building a global momentum against terror funding by eradicating the streams of finance,” he added.

Highlighting that India is already a powerhouse and one of the world’s most dynamic consumption environments, Mr Rajput said that we must work concertedly to ensure that illicit trade does not dent our growth trajectory. “While action is being taken to refine policy frameworks, strengthen cooperation and administer stricter enforcement, the role of our citizenry to ensure that only legal products are consumed holds great significance and to achieve this awareness will be key. For this a robust mass awareness generation strategy is imperative,” he added.

Mr Anil Sinha, Former Director, CBI and Think Tank Member, FICCI CASCADE also shared his perspective on the impact of illicit trade and emphasized on the need to work together to fight the menace of illicit trade.

Hon’ble Mr. Justice KV Viswanathan, Judge, Supreme Court of India, during the Valedictory Address said, “One suggestion for policymakers to make counterfeiting less attractive is they should adopt suitable tax measures for genuine products. If you make counterfeiting less attractive in terms of price by having a rational tax structure, it could be a serious disincentive for them to resort to this. We need to ensure that all stakeholders come together to tackle this issue. Judiciary can come in to play a stellar role but it can only be one of the components.”

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