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The black market is hitting tax receipts and undermining recovery efforts in key sectors, Retail Ireland has warned.
According to Retail Ireland Chairperson Frank Gleeson, there is an "enormous" black market in tobacco, fuel, pharmaceuticals, entertainment, and counterfeit products. A report conducted for Retail Ireland by Grant Thornton estimates that the Exchequer loses at least EUR400m (USD541.5m) a year as a result of black market activity.
Gleeson believes that "if even some of this money could be recouped, it would greatly help the Government reach its targets, while also protecting retail jobs and boosting the domestic economy."
Among the remedial measures recommended by Retail Ireland are a freeze on excise duties and taxes, to prevent the price between legal and illegal products from widening, a fuel duty equalisation, and an end to dyeing fuel marked for agricultural use. Tougher penalties should be introduced for consumers who knowingly purchase illegal products, and the penalties imposed on those convicted should be increased.
Retail Ireland also argues that police and Revenue resources should be prioritized, to detect and deter illicit trade, and that consumer awareness campaigns ought to inform consumers of the damage inflicted by the black market.
"These policies, and many others, should form part of a strategic plan to tackle illicit trade, led by a Government steering group and comprised of Government departments. Such a joined-up approach will see the Exchequer benefit, and criminals lose out," Gleeson said.
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