The meeting started at 5 p.m. and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was also present.
There is a need for inter-governmental cooperation to crack the masterminds behind smuggling networks and take steps to deter illicit trade, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Monday.
While speaking at the global conference on ‘Cooperation in Enforcement Matters’ organised by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Sitharaman stressed the fact that the nature of smuggled or illegally traded goods has not changed over the last 50-60 years and it continues to be precious metals, narcotics, precious reserves from the forest or marine life.
She said the customs authorities should share information among themselves to curb the network of illicit trade.
“So largely the goods which are illegally traded remain the same. There are no newer areas on which the customs authorities are baffled. If this is the way it is showing a trend over the decade, by now most of us should be fairly informed of who are the focus behind it,” she highlighted.
It is worth highlighting that last month, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs Chairman, Sanjay Kumar Agarwal, mentioned that during the last financial year, around 3.5 tonnes of gold, 18 crore cigarette sticks, 140 metric tonnes of red sanders, and 90 tonnes of heroin were seized along with other drugs.
On the deterrence of illicit trade, the Finance Minister said the deterrence is strengthened by the fact that customs authorities are alert, you have held back some of these smuggled goods, and you show dedication and commitment to completely destroy what you have caught and not again put it into the market, even though it may be legitimate.
“It is important for all governments to know how to deter smuggling activities which are endangering our wild flora and fauna, how to deter activities where networked groups think that small fries can be sacrificed, police or customs authorities can catch hold of this small (fries) and larger fish, which is the brain behind, is never going to be caught,” she added.
In the latest report released by the FICCI CASCADE titled ‘Hidden Streams: Linkages Between Illicit Markets, Financial Flows, Organised Crime and Terrorism’, the illegal economy in India has an overall score of 6.3 in India.
This is higher than the average score of 5 of other 122 countries.The impact of India’s illicit financial flows works out to around 5 per cent of the country’s GDP.