Consumption of Illicit Cigarettes in Bulgaria Registers Decrease
According to a market research of the five leading tobacco companies, the consumption of illicit cigarettes in Bulgaria has registered a decrease.
This was one of the conclusions drawn from the results of the survey, which were presented at a working meeting in the building of the interior ministry on Sunday.
According to the survey, the share of illicit cigarettes stood at 13.4 % of the total consumption of cigarettes in the second quarter of this year.
This constituted the lowest level of illicit trade with cigarettes registered in the past eight years since the survey has been conducted and indicated a positive trend.
This represented a decrease of 4.7 percentage points compared to the previous survey conducted in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Despite the general drop and visible decrease of the levels of consumption in certain cities, there is still room for improvement in a series of towns where the levels remain particularly high.
The consumption of illegal cigarettes is highest in the town of Svilengrad where it stood at 49 %, followed by Gabrovo (45.9 %), Blagoevgrad (31.8 %), Pazardzhik (31.1 %), Montana (29.8 %), Plovdiv (29.6 %), Sliven (25.9 %), Kyustendil (25.5 %).
The companies explained the results with the determination and political will of the government as well as the heightened measures on the fight against the illegal trade with cigarettes, which have been implemented since the beginning of this year.
Interior Minister Rumyana Bachvarova noted that countering contraband of goods with excise duty is one of the main priorities of the government, with the motives being both fiscal and principled.
Bachvarova reminded that an inter-institutional coordination center for countering contraband had been established under the authority of the General Directorate Combating Organised Crime (GDBOP).
According to Chief Secretary of the Interior Ministry Georgi Kostov, the joint approach and concentration of the efforts of the interior ministry, customs agency and National Revenue Agency (NAP) achieved considerable restriction of the contraband with excise duty goods.
Kostov also highlighted the role of the center within GDBOP for aiding the interaction and coordination between the crews, which has been beneficial for limiting the organized contraband.
The director of GDBOP, Ivaylo Spiridonov, pointed to the successful cooperation with partner services.
Spiridonov stated that international operations busted five illegal factories for the production of cigarettes functioning on the territory of Europe.
The director of the customs agency, Vanyo Tanov, highlighted that the results are above all due to the political will of the government to fight the illegal distribution of cigarettes.
In his words, the revenues from excise duty levied on cigarettes recorded a remarkable growth of 17-19 % in the last quarter.
This amounted to an increase of BGN 220-230 M collected in revenues, with the forecast being for the figure to reach BGN 250 M until the end of the year.
Tanov said that the customs are preparing, including technically, for the planned increase of excise duties levied on cigarettes in 2016, which will make illegal trade with cigarettes more attractive for organized crime.
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