Dáil Éireann - Volume 567 - 28 May, 2003

Written Answers. - Customs and Excise Service.

  93. Ms Burton asked the Minister for Finance the total number and value of contraband cigarettes seized by the Customs and Excise Service in each of the past five years; his estimate of the loss to the Exchequer in terms of tax and excise duties arising from the illegal cigarette market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14628/03]

  Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy): I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that details of cigarettes seized by customs during the past five years are as follows:

Year

Number of Seizures

Quantity Seized No.

Estimated Retail Value

Revenue at Risk

1998

188

8.4m

1.6m

1.3m

1999

233

70.7m

14.1m

10.9m

2000

403

96.3m

22.7m

18.1m

2001

2,467

162.1m

40.3m

31.9m

2002

3,826

74.8m

18.7m

14.7m

I am advised that it is not feasible to estimate the loss to the Exchequer resulting from the illegal trade in cigarettes. It is acknowledged that a certain amount of illegal trading is taking place and this does affect returns to the Exchequer. However, illegal street trading has not re-emerged to any significant degree since concerted enforcement action was taken by Customs and [1443]the Garda following the introduction of tax stamps in 1995. I understand that the circumstances in which many of the seizures listed above were made, in addition to the brands of the cigarettes themselves, would strongly indicate that a significant portion of the cigarettes seized in the State are intended for the UK market where cigarette taxes are higher. This situation is kept under continual review.