PETALING JAYA: A consumer advocacy group has called on the government to allocate funding to curtail the “growing threat” of the e-commerce black market.

In a statement, the Consumer Choice Center (CCC) said such funding was required due to the explosion of online purchases during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has provided black market perpetrators new avenues and opportunities.

The recommendation is part of the CCC’s three-point recommendations for Budget 2021 aimed at protecting consumers from the black market.

Apart from recommending that relevant enforcement agencies should be provided with the resources required to curtail the black market, CCC also suggested that the government allocate funding for consumer education.

Another recommendation is for a special allocation to be put in place for relevant government ministries and agencies to conduct roadshows throughout the country to educate consumers against buying black market products.

CCC also suggested that the government review the excise structure and reform taxes as structural reforms were required to close the price gap between legitimate products, which carried an artificially inflated price due to taxes and excise duties, versus black market products.

CCC said if the price difference was small, consumers would prefer to buy legal products and black market perpetrators would lose their motivation to smuggle in illegal goods.

“The 2021 Budget provides an ideal opportunity for the Malaysian government to address the black market in an urgent and comprehensive manner to safeguard Malaysian consumers and re-energise the country’s economy,” said CCC managing director Fred Roeder.

“The tobacco black market hurts all Malaysian consumers as it causes the government to lose RM5 billion in uncollected tax annually, harms legitimate retailers and fuels corruption at all levels of the public sector.

“Malaysia currently tops the world in the tobacco black market, commanding a market share of over 62% in total cigarettes sold. If such products can easily enter the marketplace, what about other items like drugs, unregulated pharmaceuticals or fake goods?”

Originally published here.



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