HA NOI (VNS)— Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has affirmed efforts to combat smuggling and trade fraud, urging for strict punishments for officials found to be covering up violations.
Addressing the launching ceremony and the first meeting of the National Steering Committee on the Prevention and Control of Smuggling, Trade Fraud and Fake Commodities (or Steering Committee 389) in Ha Noi on Tuesday, Phuc said smuggling and fraud remained serious problems for Viet Nam with impacts on health and domestic production.
The Deputy PM, who is also head of the committee, urged the media to raise awareness of counterfeit goods and encourage consumers to protect themselves from low-quality products.
According to Deputy Defence Minister Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Thanh Cung, who is also deputy head of the committee, a specific force in every locality would take charge of efforts to prevent smuggling, trade fraud and the import of counterfeit goods. Under the new plan, leaders of forces would be responsible for any remaining problems with smuggling in that locality, he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Public Security Senior Lieutenant General Le Quy Vuong, also deputy head of the committee, noted that more effective measures needed to tackle smuggling across land, air and marine borders, particularly in the north where poultry and low-quality food trafficking remain rife.
According to a report by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, authorities reported 32,000 cases of smuggling worth VND430 billion (US$20 million) in 2013, up nearly 8,500 from the number of cases in 2012.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Do Thang Hai, said efforts to crack down on smuggling and fake goods had not been effective. He described the number of cases addressed as modest and said co-operation between authorities had been sub-standard.
Meanwhile, smuggling is still prevalent along Viet Nam's sea borders, with oil and gas smuggling along the sea zones of Nam Dinh, Thanh Hoa, Ha Tinh provinces and HCM City remaining a serious problem. Cattle and poultry smuggling along sea borders is also providing a challenge for authorities.
This is despite the fact Coast Guard, Maritime Border Guard and customs forces reportedly handled around 940 trafficking cases in 2013.
While smuggling remains a headache for authorities, efforts are being taken to enhance current measures to crack down on illegal products. The Steering Committee has since been upgraded from Steering Committee 127, with representation from across various ministries and sectors, in order to improve the effectiveness of prevention efforts.
Deputy PM Phuc has called on ministries and localities to recommend competent officials to join the committee at the local level. Phuc has also called on mass media to beef up coverage on the illegal activities to raise awareness and encourage consumer boycotts.
Boycotts are an effective way to reduce the health risks of inferior products and support local industries, he said.