Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Questions (188)

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

188. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the amount his Department estimates the illicit trade in tobacco to be worth in terms of lost revenue to the State and lost trade to the economy. [12951/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that determining the scale of any illicit black market activity, and the losses that it causes the Exchequer and the legitimate trade, is problematic, and estimates of such losses need to be viewed with caution. I understand that the available information on possible losses to the Exchequer relates only to cigarettes. A survey in respect of 2011 carried out for the Revenue Commissioners and the Health Services Executive found that some 770 million illicit cigarettes were consumed in the State. This would indicate a loss of the order of €258 million, in excise duty and VAT, in that year. A similar survey was undertaken in 2012 and the results are being compiled at present.

I am advised also that the Revenue Commissioners do not have information on the loss caused to legitimate businesses by the illicit tobacco trade. They are, however, conscious of the threat that this criminal activity poses to law-abiding retailers, and taking action against it is a high priority for them. Revenue’s programme of action resulted in the seizure of over 95 million cigarettes and 5,276 kilograms of tobacco in 2012, and 132 convictions for smuggling or sale of illicit cigarettes or tobacco were secured during the year.