TIMB blacklists 169 over side-marketing

TOBACCO Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has blacklisted 169 individuals for tobacco side-marketing during this year’s just-ended marketing season.

Tobacco side-marketing has prejudiced registered contractors and auction floors of millions of dollars in hard currency and negatively affected the industry and the economy.

“TIMB wishes to advise all its stakeholders to be wary of … individuals who have been illegally buying and selling tobacco during the 2021 marketing season. 

“Kindly be advised that all tobacco sales should only be conducted through licensed auction floors and registered contractors.

“The public is encouraged to report any suspected side-marketing taking place to TIMB inspectorate department or to the nearest police station,” TIMB said yesterday.

Individuals invaded the market offering US$6,70 per kg, which was higher than the US$4,99 at the auction floors.

This season alone, farmers have sold 188 million kg of tobacco, raking in US$522 million.

Tobacco is the country’s second earner of foreign currency after gold at 19 percent of the total export receipts and has been instrumental in improving liquidity in the economy.

The industry is on record calling stakeholders to revive auction floors and eliminate surrogates who have mushroomed everywhere.

TIMB chief executive Meanwell Gudu, however, yesterday said he was not yet in a position to give statistics on the losses incurred as a result of side-marketing.

“We do not have the actual figures yet. We will engage our tobacco companies, especially the contractors, to give us their default rate so that we will be able to quantify the losses incurred through side-marketing,” Gudu told the Daily News.

Meanwhile, TIMB also said that its 2021 tobacco marketing season was officially closed on Wednesday, amid calls by auction floor operators to offer affordable funding to smallholder farmers.

“The flue-cured auction tobacco clean up sale for the 2021 marketing season will be held on Wednesday the 5th of August 2021.

“Depending on the volume of deliveries the clean-up sale may be continued for more than one day and until all delivered tobacco has been sold. 

“Because of the volumes that are still being received, contract sales will continue until further notice,” TIMB said.