Need strict vigilance against smuggling of fake medicine: CBIC Chairman


[**EDS: TWITTER VIDEO GRAB POSTED BY @nsitharaman ON TUESDAY, MARCH 31, 2020** New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks during the second virtual meeting of the G20 Finance Ministers to coordinate efforts to deal with COVID-19 pandemic, in New Delhi. ( /PTI] New Delhi, March 31 : Chairman of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), Ajit Kumar, on Monday asked his staff to be extra vigilant against the smuggling of fake medicines and personal protective gears, which has surged with criminal organisations turning the Covid-19 pandemic into an opportunity to carry out fraudulent activities. Acknowledging the round-the-clock duty of its staff, in a letter to the all the CBIC staff, he noted that Customs officials cannot afford to rest at his stage. "While making every possible effort to facilitate legitimate trade, our frontline officers and staff need to be vigilant to thwart potential vulnerabilities in the international supply chain for illicit trade including counterfeit medicines, personal protective equipment and related items, as well as other transitional financial crimes," Kumar said in the letter in which he also lauded the staff of the Customs department for making voluntary contribution into the PM-CARES fund set up to provide relief from the coronavirus pandemic. Quoting the World Customs Organization (WCO), he said: "Criminal organisations have turned this global pandemic into an opportunity to carry out their fraudulent activities." He further said that WCO has launched the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR ) CENcomm Group for data exchange on counterfeit medical supplies and fake medicines equipment. "I urge DGDRI and all Customs zonal heads to take note of this, be proactive and take appropriate action," the Chairman said. The concerns raised by Kumar are coming from several consignment of fake equipment identified by the departments at ports recently. Criminal organization s are using the pandemic to carry out their fraudulent activities, particularly by trafficking counterfeit medical supplies such as face masks, medical g loves and personal protective equipment. As part of relaxation given in various compliance measures by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman last week, she had also emphasised on the importance of 24x7 Customs clearance till June 30 and ensure that trade and industry's problems are ameliorated to some extent. This has pushed the Customs department to work overtime and maintain extra level of alertness to c heck criminal activities as well. The CBIC Chairman appreciated that in this testing time, the zonal chiefs were taking ownership and working round the clock with their officers to ensure smooth clearance of EXIM cargo. On the contribution by the department for the fight against coronavirus pandemic, he said the CBIC may be able to donate over Rs 8 crore to the PM-CARES fund with contributions made by its employees. Further in a tweet, the board has said: "CBIC stands with the nation in this situation and committed to provide relief. All officers & staff of # TeamCBIC pledges to contribute around Rs 8 crore to #PMCaresFund launched by PM @narendramodi to support Government's efforts to fight # COVID19 pandemic." /IANS


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