News2019.06.27 17:00

Illegal alcohol sales up in Lithuania, organisation says 2019.06.27 17:00

Illegal alcohol sales are growing in Lithuania, according to an organization tracking and reporting illegal selling points.

Kęstutis Kupšys, of the non-profit ‘Lietuva be Šešėlio’ (Lithuania Without Shadow), says that higher taxes on alcohol and selling time restrictions have encouraged illegal sales of contraband drinks.

“Excise duty hikes in March made strong drinks more expensive, giving more incentives to make and purchase alcohol illegally,” Kupšys is quoted in a press release.

‘Lietuva be Šešėlio’ encourages people to report illegal selling points. The organisation says it received 94 reports in May alone, more than over the first three months of this year.

While most illegal alcohol selling points were reported in and around Vilnius, Kupšys says that, relative to population, illegal trade flourishes close to the border with Belarus in Šakiai, Prienai and Šalčininkai.

In all, ‘Lietuva be Šešėlio’ has marked over 2,000 illegal alcohol selling points on its online map.

“People who report criminal activity are changing the situation,” according to Kupšys. “Since 2013, 721 illegal selling points have been closed down across Lithuania.”

The organisation notes that, according to a 2018 study by Medina and Schneider, the black market makes up 23.8 percent of the Lithuanian economy. In Europe, the shadow economy is bigger only in Estonia (24.6 percent), Romania (26.3), Croatia (26.5), Turkey (27.2) and Bulgaria (29.6).

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