THE EDITOR: I write in support of recent newspaper articles highlighting the major problem of the illicit alcohol trade that has been happening in TT for many years.
In the past our company has provided information to various agencies but nothing has ever came out of it.
This issue has directly affected the sales of our brands, such as MacArthur’s Scotch Whisky, Hankey Bannister Scotch Whisky, Kulov Vodka and Camus Cognac, to name a few.
It is our opinion that the current customs duty of $92.28 per litre on some of the alcohol categories are too high and present opportunities for the dishonest trade of smuggled alcohol.
For instance, the customs duties compared to the CIF (cost, insurance and freight) value are as follows:
Whisky and vodka, approximately 370 per cent of the CIF value.
Brandy, approximately 500 per cent of the CIF value.
We support a call for the thorough investigation and prosecution of all the people and establishments that support the trade of these illicit items. As was also mentioned in previous newspaper articles, all these alcoholic beverages have manufacturers’ codes that will assist retailers in verifying whether or not the products they are receiving are legitimate.
We also rely on the Supermarkets Association to encourage their members to support the authorised distributors and to not the illegal trade for a bigger margin. In the same way that retailers check the best-before dates of products, they need to check for the manufacturers’ codes and reject those without.
The quality of the smuggled products is questionable and this not only destroys the brand but eliminates the needed support that we, as distributors, offer to our retailers.
We hope that with the renewed requests from the distributors, the relevant authorities will implement measures to stop the importation and distribution of illicit alcohol in TT. These are trying times and we need all assistance to ensure that our businesses survive.
Trinidad Import & Export Co Ltd