Authorities collected VNĐ7.9 trillion (US$347.5 million) from administrative fines, selling off confiscated smuggled goods, and tax arrears, 40 per cent more than the previous year’s first half.
According to National Steering Committee 389, the majority of smuggled goods fall into categories of essential consumer goods, heavily taxed goods, or goods banned for import, such as cocaine, explosives, tobacco, cosmetics, petrol and gas, elephant tusks or rhino horns, among others.
Some notable cases include an interception of 7,800 foreign cigarette packs in the southern province of Long An, or confiscation of 26kg rhino horns and 6kg of elephant tusks in Hà Nội, and apprehension of 20 ships illegally transporting 3.5 million litres of gas.
The information was released last week at a steering committee meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Trương Hoà Bình.
The steering committee noted that smuggling continues unabated despite heightened efforts to stem it, especially in border areas, where criminals take advantage of hard-to-access locations and transporting the goods on hidden trails or along small streams sheltered by thick forest.
On the maritime front, smuggling of petrol and gas has been on the rise, the committee said, since Việt Nam’s current gas price is higher than in some other countries in the region. The criminals’ favoured modus operandi is using foreign ships to transport oil and gas to Việt Nam’s maritime borders and then splitting the stock among different Vietnamese fishing boats.
The Deputy PM said strict legislation must be adopted to “remove or reassign leaders showing signs of aiding and abetting smuggling, counterfeit products and trade fraud.”
He added that anti-smuggling efforts are “an important and permanent political duty to be carried out by all levels of the government,” and that there will be no “zero tolerance” in this matter.
The Deputy PM also said that attention must be focused on transnational criminal groups to protect domestic production.
“Culprits order goods from China, bring them back into the country, slap ‘Made in Việt Nam’ labels on them and sell them to unsuspecting customers,” according to Lê Hồng Sơn, Vice Chairman of Hà Nội People’s Committee and member of the Steering Committee 389. He said previously, the counterfeit products were usually of luxury brands, however the range is now increasingly diverse, from sweets and lightbulbs to clothes.