Dr O P Mishra, Joint Commissioner of Police, Economic Offences Wing, Delhi Police, today said that coordination amongst law enforcement agencies and stakeholders is imperative to counter the problem of counterfeiting and smuggling.
Addressing the FICCI CASCADE webinar on ‘Combating Counterfeiting and Smuggling during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond’, Dr Mishra, mentioned: s“Increasing surveillance, creating public awareness, coordination amongst law enforcement agencies and stakeholders, and capacity building for police officers are needed to counter the problem of counterfeiting and smuggling effectively.”
Anil Rajput, Chairman, FICCI CASCADE, opined: “Just like COVID-19, illicit trade is also an invisible enemy which has no colour, no religion and no mercy on human beings. In times of such economic crisis, when legitimate businesses are struggling, illicit operators are trying to exploit the current situation by flooding the market with smuggled and counterfeit goods.”
As the risks associated with the current pandemic rises, law enforcement services play a crucial role in contributing to the effort to control the disease, promoting safer communities, and fighting criminals who take advantage of the outbreak, he added.
Deep Chand, Advisor FICCI CASCADE and Former Special Commissioner of Police, New Delhi emphasised that COVI19 has provided opportunity to criminals to exploit the current situation to find new ways to make money. “They are increasing and diversifying their activities through a wide range of crimes and scams which exploit the fear and uncertainty surrounding the virus. An increase in counterfeit healthcare products, fraud and cybercrime are being seen. This problem will only increase with respect to essential and non-essential goods as relaxations take place and normalcy resume,” he added.
Several industry players and brand owners from leading companies participated in the webinar and deliberated on industry issues and challenges in containing the flow of illicit products during the current crisis. They also highlighted the need for strengthening enforcement and surveillance mechanism. Discussions revolved around the collaborative role of police and industry in thwarting this menace. Leveraging emerging technologies to battle illicit operators during the pandemic was also highlighted.
The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the dangers posed by illicit trade. It calls for a greater focus on addressing the growing hazards of counterfeiting and smuggling which are severely impacting the economy and endangering the lives of people. While the government is continuously intensifying efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus by enacting various measures to support public health systems, safeguard the economy and ensure the safety of its citizens, illegal operators are taking full advantage of the pandemic. It is evident that they will use shortages in the supply of goods to increasingly provide illicit alternatives especially in essential and non-essential items both online and offline. The current situation, which is already witnessing severe socio-economic distress, sale of such spurious goods will only worsen the problem. Hence, arresting the sale of illicit goods at the time of this unprecedented crisis needs our immediate and unwavering attention.