Creating consumer awareness and reducing illicit market operations- vital for a conducive environment for growth and development in the country

New Delhi

“Create consumer awareness and substantially reduce the illicit market operations for a conducive environment for growth and development in the country”, said P. Thilothaman, Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, Govt. of Kerala at the Webinar held today on Combating Counterfeit and Smuggled and Pirated goods During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond, organized by FICCI’s Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy (CASCADE) focusing on the state of Kerala. Minister further added, “Consumer awareness on fake and smuggled goods is low and hence many consumers are unaware that they are buying such goods and equally unaware of the consequences.  Protecting and promoting the welfare of consumers has become one of the major concerns of our government and organizing awareness programs such as these help to educate and sensitize the consumers.”

Complimenting the Kerala Government, Anil Rajput, Chairman, FICCI CASCADE said, “despite having multitude of challenges owing to COVID-19, the enforcement agencies of Kerala have seized large number of illicit liquor, fake sanitizer products, gold, tobacco products and much more.”  Highlighting Prime Minister’s Vocal for Local initiative, Rajput emphasised “I could not imagine a better time for the Prime Ministers clarion call of vocal for local-Aatmanirbhar Bharat, which to my mind could alleviate the pain and catapult India to even greater heights in the future.”

In his opening remarks, Dr. M I Sahadulla, Co-Chair, FICCI Kerala State Council and MD, KIMS Healthcare Management Ltd. said, “Kerala being a consumer state, the opportunity is more for illicit traders. Hence, it is essential to create awareness and put an end to such nefarious activities.” Perspectives from Kerala Police was shared by S. Sreejith, IPS, IG, Crime, Kerala Police. Sumit Kumar, Commissioner of Custom, Preventive, Kerala Customs shared the custom department’s vision in addressing this issue. Some of the key suggestions included: Need for a wide scale programme to educate both industry and citizens about the dangers of smuggled and counterfeit goods. Convergence of the stakeholders to address the menace of counterfeiting and smuggling. Information based preventive action is a key tool to catch the perpetrators of illicit trade.

Eminent industry leaders including Deepak L Aswani, Co-Chair, FICCI Kerala State Council and Managing Partner, Lachmandas & Sons; V. Noushad, Managing Director, VKC Group Companies; Varkey Peter, Managing Director, Mothers Agro Foods Pvt Ltd.; Paul Francis, Managing Director, KLF Nirmal Industries (Pvt) Ltd and Dileep Narayanan – Head-Bullion & Treasury ,Malabar Gold Private Ltd., took part in the deliberations and were of the view that problem of illicit trade has only compounded in the current situation, where criminals have used the pandemic as an opportunity to cause significant damage on the economy of the nation, health, and safety of the consumers. All the speakers also reiterated that consumer safety, safeguarding legitimate businesses while promoting indigenous production will play a significant role in the path to our economic recovery.

Several steps are being taken by FICCI CASCADE and the government to create large-scale awareness among the most impacted segment of this menace: the consumer. The seminar, focusing on the State of Kerala which was organised, is a part of a series of such events to be organised across the country as part of a nation-wide awareness campaign to highlight the issue and focus on the growing menace of illegal trade.