Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday stressed on the need for intergovernmental cooperation to crack the masterminds behind smuggling networks and take steps to deter illicit trade.
Speaking at the Global Conference on Cooperation in Enforcement Matters organised by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Sitharaman said that customs authorities should share information among themselves to curb the network of illicit trade and efforts should be made to ensure that information shared is "actionable".
Sitharaman also said that the nature of smuggled or illegally traded goods has not changed over the last 50-60 years and it continues to be precious metals, narcotics, precious reserves from forest or marine life.
"So largely the goods which are illegally traded remain the same. There are no newer areas on which the customs authorities are baffled. If this is the way it is showing a trend over the decade, by now most of us should be fairly informed of who are the forces behind it.
"I place a lot of emphasis on intergovernmental coop, along with WCO (World Customs Organisation), so that we are able to crack the brains behind it (smuggling), the masterminds behind it, with the help from local authorities and governments," the minister said.
She said deterrence of illicit trade is strengthened by the fact that customs authorities are alert, you have held back some of these smuggled goods, and you show dedication and commitment to completely destroy what you have caught and not again put it into the market, even though it may be legitimate.
"It is important for all governments to know how to deter smuggling activities which are endangering our wild flora and fauna, how to deter activities where networked groups think that small fries can be sacrificed, police or customs authorities can catch hold of this small (fries) and larger fish, which is the brain behind, is never going to be caught," Sitharaman added.