KRA raises alarm over illicit China cigarettes

The taxman plans to enlist global help in the fight against trade in smuggled cigarettes from Europe, China and Dubai, which has partly hit excise tax collections.

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) yesterday said the country will ratify the World Health Organisation’s treaty on combating illicit global trade in cigarettes before the July 2 deadline.

Countries that ratify the protocol are required to track and trace production and sale of tobacco in their jurisdictions, keep records as well as monitor and regulate transit and online sales.

Signatories are also obligated to share information, offer mutual legal assistance and extradite suspects in illicit tobacco trade.

The WHO’s Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, which was concluded in November 2012, requires signatures from 40 countries to become operational.

About 36 countries have ratified the protocol, and Kenya is seeking to be among four additional States required for it work.

“The tobacco chain globally is very complicated. We’ve seen, for example, evidence of tobacco that has found its way into our country from Montenegro,” said KRA commissioner-general John Njiraini. “And we have cases that we are investigating and we are making good progress.”

The KRA Excisable Goods Management System, implemented in 2013 and modified in 2016 to include smartphone verification capabilities, has capabilities to remotely track and trace excisable products such as cigarettes from factories through the markets.

Excise tax from cigarettes fell by 16 per cent in six month to last December, the KRA said without disclosing actual numbers.

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