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Sunday 28.05.2017 | Name days: Vilhelms, Vilis
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Tobacco product contraband causes eleven billion euros of damage to Europe annually

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUContraband, which mainly consists of illegally carried cigarettes, is one of the main threats to Latvia’s and Europe’s security, because our country has borders with third countries and the EU, says Latvian Finance Minister Janis Reirs.

According to him, contraband of tobacco products causes nearly EUR 11 billion of damage to budgets of EU member states every year. On top of that, often this money is later used to finance terrorism – an even greater threat to EU countries, as well as democratic and civil values in general.

«Events that took place in the EU and in the world in general have forced us to pay more attention to matters of safety and security. This is why it is only logical to make security and public safety the main priorities for customs services. EU institutions should join forces and act together in order to defend citizens and strengthen internal and external security. Security is important for our economic growth. A competitive EU and a safe EU,» – said Reirs.

In regard to the volumes of contraband of cigarettes, a total of 1.86 billion cigarettes were realized in Latvia, bringing nearly EUR 161 million to the state budget (and a total of EUR 166.2 million for tobacco products in general). Estimates suggest the illegal volume of cigarette trade was approximately 650 million cigarettes in 2014, which resulted in the state budget missing nearly EUR 56 million in unpaid excise tax. «It is a serious threat to our country’s budget and welfare of our citizens,» – said the minister.

Considering this situation, Latvian State Revenue Service has carried out multiple measures in order to improve combating of contraband cigarettes. The current proportion of contraband cigarettes in Latvia is 27.4%, and this is the lowest index in the last five years.

«We’ve heard multiple announcements regarding SRS’ successful operations in apprehending smugglers. Nevertheless, I would like to emphasize once more that international cooperation with other services is vital for the success of such operations. The fight with contraband is a fight for EU’s security. It has to become a priority in Europe’s policy in order to provide economic, military and social security. This means member states have to come together in order to find a single, clear and consequent strategy to resolve this problem,» – said Reirs.

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