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Żieda konsiderevoli fil-multi fuq sigaretti tal-kuntrabandu

L-importazzjoni, il-bejgħ u l-konsum ta’ sigaretti tal-kuntrabandu qed jagħmel ħsara kbira lill-pajjiż. F’dawn l-aħħar snin id-Dipartiment tad-Dwana, apparti l-kampanja agressiva ta’ infurzar li kien għaddej biha, kien qiegħed jeżamina sew is-sitwazzjoni.

Minn dan l-eżerċizzju ħareġ ċar li, potenzjalment, l-effett tad-deterrent fuq min jikser il-liġi kien relattivament baxx tant li ma kienx qiegħed jiskoraġġixxi s-sogru għall-kuntrabandu. Tant hu hekk, li huma ħafna l-każi ripetittivi li taqbad id-Dwana.

Għalhekk, inħass il-bżonn li tiġi ittrattata din is-sitwazzjoni anomala fid-diversi oqsma b’mossa li tindirizza kemm id-domanda għal dan il-prodott (demand side), kif ukoll l-ammont għad-dispożizzjoni biex jissodisfa din id-domanda (supply side). Dan ifisser li d-Dwana ma kien fadlilha l-ebda triq oħra ħlief li tibda tipproċedi bl-istess mod kemm kontra min jimporta u jbiegħ, kif ukoll kontra min jikkonsma tali sigaretti.

Għal dan il-għan, is-sena l-oħra, ġew emendati l-provvedimenti tal-liġi li jirrigwardjaw il-multi fuq evażjoni ta’ sisa.

Iż-żieda f’dan ir-rigward mhix kosmetika:

               • il-multi minimi fuq reati deċiżi bi ftehim barra l-Qorti żdiedu minn €250 għal €1,500; 
               • il-multi minimi fuq reati ttrattati mill-Qorti qed żdiedu minn €500 għal €3,500, fil-każ ta’ konfiska, u minn €600 għal €4,000, fil-każ ta’ evażjoni; u
               • il-multa massima fuq reati ttrattati mill-Qorti hija ta‘ €25,000. 

Minbarra dan id-deterrent, l-awtoritajiet tad-Dwana u tal-Pulizija se jkunu qed iżidu l-infurzar u dan billi jsaħħu r-riżorsi tagħhom.

Id-Dipartiment tad-Dwana seta’ mar oltre minn hekk, imma ħass li, għalissa, daqshekk għandu jkun biżżejjed biex jitwassal il-messaġġ meħtieġ. Min jidhirlu li għandu jibqa’ jippersisti fil-ksur tal-liġi issa se jsib liġi aktar soda u b’saħħitha u dan għaliex iċ-ċittadin onest, li jħallas it-taxxi kollha, jimmerita li jkun protett b’mod aktar qawwi.

Considerable increase on penalties imposed on illicit cigarettes

Importing, supplying and consuming of contraband cigarettes drastically and negatively affect the country in various ways. During these last years, the Customs Department, notwithstanding the aggressive enforcement campaign, was also taking stock of the whole detrimental situation.

From these analysis, it clearly transpired that the actual deterrent effect on those who break the law, is quite ineffective. In fact, it is not at all discouraging to contrabandists to take the risk in supplying said cigarettes. This is consolidated due to the many repetitive cases which the Customs Department frequently encounters.

Thus, this anomalous situation in the various segments throughout the country must be dealt with in such a manner where it would address the demand side as well as the supply side. This means that Customs Department has no other alternative but to proceed in the same manner against those who import and sell, as well as those who consume these types of cigarettes.

For this reason, last year, the law pertaining to evasion of excise duty has been amended thoroughly.

The increase of such penalties is definitely not of a cosmetic nature as follows:

                 • Out-of-Court settlements increased from €250 to a minimum of €1,500; 
                 • Court penalties increased from €500 to a minimum of €3,500, up to a maximum of  €25,000, in the case of seizure, whilst In the case of evasion, this has increased from €600 to a minimum of €4,000, up to a maximum of  €25,000.

Apart from this deterrent, Customs and Police authorities will be increasing their enforcement measures by increasing their resources.

Customs Department could have gone beyond the proposed measures, however, it was felt that currently this would suffice to send a clear message.