BUCHAREST (Romania), January 15 (SeeNews) – Romania's state budget lost more than 3 billion lei ($732 million/ 641 million euro) last year due to cigarette smuggling, according to official centralised data published by stopcontrabanda.ro website on Tuesday.
The loss of revenue is similar to the one recorded in 2017, as the share of the black market of cigarettes in Romania edged up to 16.3% in 2018, from 16% in the previous year, according to a study published on the website which is supported by British American Tobacco, the Romanian General Police Inspectorate and the Romanian Border Police.
In 2018, the Romanian authorities prevented over 112 million contraband cigarettes from reaching the country's market, about 25% less than in the previous year. The total black market value of contraband cigarettes confiscated by the Romanian authorities in 2018 exceeds 50 million lei, the study showed.
"We can expect that the significant increase in excise duty on cigarettes in 2019 will put additional pressure on consumers, with the risk that they will go for half-priced black market products. That is why the border security measures announced last year by the finance ministry should be applied as soon as possible," BAT Romania director for legal affairs and public relations, Ileana Dumitru, said.
"Last year's experience shows that despite the efforts of the Romanian Police and the Border Police to destroy organized crime networks, in the absence of proper funding of the customs authorities, the consumption of smuggled products will continue to increase," Dumitru added.
According to the data, Romania has the highest level of cigarette smuggling in Eastern Europe, as the country has 2,000 km of borders with non-EU states where the tobacco price can be up to 6 times lower.
Tobacco industry is the second biggest contributor of revenue to Romania's state budget, after the oil industry.
(1 euro=4.6822 lei)