Mastermind Tobacco has asked the government of Kenya to crack down on the illicit cigarette trade, reports The Standard.
“We are concerned at the growing level of illicit cigarettes making their way into the country, especially from Uganda,” Mastermind said in a statement.
“We are the biggest losers in the market because when we have 80 percent of illicit products bearing the name of our product and are sold cheaply in the country, we will not be able to compete.”
Mastermind said it is ready to work with government agencies including Kenya’s Inter-Agency Anti-Illicit Working Group and the Anti-Counterfeit Agency, regional bodies including the East African Community and COMESA as well as international organizations such as the World Trade Organization and World Health Organization to eliminate the illicit tobacco trade.
“If we do not work together, we may be forced to shut down because we will not be able to compete against products that are not paying tax,” Mastermind Tobacco stated.
A recent survey by its competitor British American Tobacco found that Kenya is losing up to KES6.5 billion ($45.67 million) annually in taxes as a result of the illicit cigarettes.
An estimated one in every five products sold in Kenya is counterfeit and almost 4 million Kenyans are using counterfeit goods that include sugar, cigarettes, bottled water and cooking oil.
Last month, the Kenya Revenue Authority in collaboration with the Inter-Agency Team destroyed an assortment of illicit goods seized from the market worth KES500 million with an estimated tax value of KES150 million.