What really works to defeat smuggling? Discover seven actions

On Brazilian borders, organized crime is winning. It maintains vast networks of collaborators, organized and well-armed, to transport weapons and drugs to cigarettes and pesticides into the country. The profits obtained from the sales of clothing, perfumes and electronics help to finance, including the payment of tuition fees. Meanwhile, law enforcement is grappling with budget contingencies.

“Corruption is an economic problem, but also a social one, and is present due to working conditions, insecurity, lack of infrastructure, as well as misconduct by the corrupt agent”, says lawyer José Vicente Santos de Mendonça, professor of Law at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, where he coordinates the Economic Regulation Laboratory.

How to fight this vicious circle? Check out seven measures capable of reducing the force of smuggling and embezzlement. They work best if taken together, in order to tackle crime simultaneously on several fronts.

1. Bet on technology

Satellites, sensors and radars are capable of identifying stolen vehicles used to transport contraband on the roads. Unmanned planes can attack aircraft and vessels used by criminals. Biometric reading at border posts reduces the risk of a suspect escaping because he used false documents. “The new technologies for controlling people and goods at borders and airports are an attempt to adapt to the current reality, in which people and goods are highly mobile”, says researcher Pinja Lehtonen, from the University of Tampere, Finland.

“On the other hand”, points out the researcher, “international criminal organizations have a huge amount of money and very intelligent people at their disposal, which indicates that technological solutions would only work until criminals found a way to circumvent them. ”, says she, who is developing her doctoral research on automated border control in the European Union.

In other words, just buying technology is not enough. The human factor, she says, is still very important. "Experienced officers can detect a suspect's nervousness with great ease."

2. Equip law enforcement officers

“The revenue dedicated to the smuggling attack is not enough. In terms of infrastructure, organized crime wins,” says Luciano Barros, president of the Institute for Economic and Social Development of Borders (Idesf). Brazil has less than a thousand Federal Police agents operating along the entire border.

In all of Brazil, only 48 federal employees work in security, against 120 in the United States. The Armed Forces, which carry out frequent actions in the most strategic points of Brazilian borders, had to adapt the strategy after, between 2012 and 2017, the budget for discretionary spending fell by 44%. The focus is now on specific actions. These are large-scale operations that bring together dozens of different government agencies. But, at the end of the action, routine border surveillance is again flawed.

3. Carry out integrated actions

In order to prevent a suspect investigated by the Civil Police, for example, from passing through a Highway Police checkpoint without being arrested, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security is betting on the creation of the National Public Security Information System (Sinesp), a service that would bring together all available information nationwide about ongoing investigations and incident reports. But the system is still in the implementation phase.

4. Attacking corruption

Whether at border posts or camelódromos, criminals often rely on the support of agents who receive bribes to clear the way. “The data proves that the number of deviations and police corruption are significant”, says the study “Police corruption in debate: Diversion and impunity in police institutions in Rio de Janeiro”, authored by Andréa Ana do Nascimento, a researcher at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUC-RS).

The study shows that, between 2009 and 2013, the number of complaints against the actions of the Military Police and the Civil Police in Rio de Janeiro increased, respectively, by 93,6% and 68,5%. Meanwhile, the total number of police officers punished has dropped from 21 in 2010 to 4 in 2013.

5. Act in cities

Criminals cross the border, but the consumer market for smuggled goods is in the biggest cities. This is what Edson Luiz Vismona recalls, president of the Brazilian Institute of Competition Ethics (ETCO) and of the National Forum Against Piracy and Illegality (FNCP). “It is essential to tackle illegal sales on the streets across Brazil. This trade in pirated products directly attacks the honest trader, who generates legal employment and pays taxes”.

For Vismona, actions to combat illegal trade, such as those recently carried out in São Paulo on the outskirts of Rua 25 de Março, are capable of attacking an important source of income for criminals. “Each time large loads of contraband are seized, the groups suffer a blow. Collecting these products is an effective way of hampering smugglers' actions, as it attacks their profits”, says Luciano Barros.

6. Reduce taxes

As Brazil reduced taxes on electronics products, the demand for pirated versions of these products decreases. On the other hand, by increasing taxes on cigarettes, the country encouraged consumption of versions from Paraguay. Reducing taxation, or convincing neighboring countries to increase their taxes in order to match them with the values ​​practiced in Brazil, is a way of attacking smuggling, by reducing the size of the consumer market for illegal products.

7. Improve life on the borders

Cities on the borders of Brazil with other countries are characterized by poor indicators of quality of life, education and the generation of formal jobs. Encouraging the entry of legal companies in these regions, capable of increasing income and leading young people to seek to improve their professional training, is an effective way of reducing the cheap labor available to criminal groups operating at the borders.

How contraband corrupts public officials

Professor José Vicente Santos de Mendonça details the crime routine on the triple border in four moments in which public agents are corrupted. Follow:

1st moment: Near the Paraná River ravine and the shores of Lake Itaipu, where the value available is the lowest, and there is a closer cooperation bond. This link is established between the smuggler and the public agent, and the value of corruption is pre-established, and is around R$ 100/day per public agent. In this case, the public agent remains indifferent to the situation, and a positive sum relationship is established, that is, everyone “wins” in the process.

2nd moment: The public agent, after an agreement with the smuggler, monitors the cargo up to the limit of its circumscription, thus preventing the cargo from being apprehended at inspection posts. For this scenario, the value is around R$1.000 to R$1.500.

3rd moment: It happens at the inspection posts, if the vehicle used to transport the cargo is stopped. In this case, there may or may not be a prior agreement, and the value of the transfer is around R$3.000 to R$10.000.

4th moment: The public entity forges the seizure, with the objective of providing the smuggler with the opportunity to negotiate for the release of cargo. In this context, there is the highest amount of corruption, which varies from R$ 15.000 to R$ 50.000, and can reach 50% of the value of the cargo, normally paid with the goods themselves.

By Tiago Cordeiro, especially for the Gazeta do Povo - 06 / 07 / 2019

spending

The title of this article refers to a word not yet incorporated into Brazilian dictionaries. In Portugal, however, it has already been endorsed by the renowned dictionary of the Lisbon Academy of Sciences, which defines it as the “practice that consists in the exaggerated expenditure of money, in the realization of excessive expenses or expenditures and little evident utility, especially on the part of the State. or other public entities”.

In the recent election campaign, I didn't hear any candidate for any office mention cutting wasteful spending. On the contrary, many defended, often as a mere demagogic appeal, the expansion of expenses.

It is reasonable to admit that some proposals for new expenditures are justified, but they should be accompanied by measures aimed at containing expenditure, otherwise their financing will be at the expense of raising the known high tax burden, or an irresponsible increase in public debt.

In addition to extreme weather events, it cannot be ignored that the next government will face an adverse international scenario, involving inflation and recession in developed countries, economic slowdown in China impacting commodity exports, energy crisis in Europe, hunger in Africa and an unpredictable trajectory. in Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

In the context of the enormous needs of the Brazilian State, it would be advisable, although unlikely, to implement a program to restructure public spending, which would honor the efficiency, proclaimed in art. 37 of the Constitution, and eliminate spending.

There is an inexhaustible list of expenses that drain revenue and compromise the provision of public services: the evil secret budget, a permanent source of misuse of public money and corruption; the positions of deputy in the Executive Power of the Union, States and Municipalities; parliamentary “representation” quotas; the remuneration and “advising” of councilors in small municipalities, which subsist at the expense of transfers; the remuneration of public agents for participation in boards of state-owned companies; the working hours of the military police, which allows the provision of private services or participation in “militias”; the “indemnities” in the Legislative and Judiciary Powers, and in the Public Ministry; the excess of diplomatic representations abroad, without any economic or political foundation; double vacations and conversion into remuneration, special holidays and recesses in the Judiciary and the Public Ministry. Utopia? Certainly.

 

THE INTERDEPENDENCE OF THE BRAZILIAN STATE

Throughout the history of Brazil, we have traveled an extensive journey towards the consolidation of a national identity and, with it, the realization of the interdependence that should unite us in the construction of our destiny.

These postulates highlight a fundamental aspect of any civilized society: the preservation of coexistence. All existing rules seek to preserve peaceful relationships between people, environmental sustainability, overcoming social inequalities, seeking justice and social harmony. There is a clear sense of utopia that, as the filmmaker Fernando Birri taught; “Utopia is there on the horizon. I approach two steps, she moves two steps away. I walk ten steps and the horizon runs ten steps. As far as I walk, I will never reach. What is utopia for? That's what it's for: so that I don't stop walking.”

Life in society presupposes recognition and the need to preserve our relationships, permanently encouraging ethics, inclusion, diversity, postures that, lately, have also been valued in the corporate environment with the adoption of ESG metrics, bringing companies, finally, the defense of human rights.

However, actions aimed at strengthening coexistence are threatened. The political debate attests to a radicalization that distances understanding, opposing opinions are violently attacked, without attachment to argumentation, and the “cancel culture” spreads. The opposite is not an adversary but an enemy.

This environment has deep roots in our history. Disrespect for rights are plentiful, sponsored by government officials and supported by parts of society – increasingly suspicious according to a global survey by the Ipsos Institute. The investigation released by Veja shows that when asked “Do you trust others?” made to 22 people in thirty countries, Brazil appears in last place.

Corruption scandals, the sense of impunity that contaminates the whole of society, the profound inequality and certainly difficulty in enforcing the most basic consumer rights are clearly harmful to our coexistence. Yes, our past and what we are living in the present are not encouraging, but they can serve as fuel to change the future.

By remembering that our mutual dependence is the reality that should mean union and that it is possible to overcome our countless difficulties with dialogue, tolerance, without subservience. Thus, we can question and find ways. Utopia? Perhaps, but as Birri taught, this should be our way.

spending

The title of this article ('Despesismo') refers to a word not yet incorporated into Brazilian dictionaries. In Portugal, however, it has already been endorsed by the renowned dictionary of the Lisbon Academy of Sciences, which defines it as the “practice that consists in the exaggerated expenditure of money, in the realization of excessive expenses or expenditures and little evident utility, especially on the part of the State. or other public entities”.

In the recent election campaign, I didn't hear any candidate for any office mention cutting wasteful spending. On the contrary, many defended, often as a mere demagogic appeal, the expansion of expenses.

It is reasonable to admit that some proposals for new expenditures are justified, but they should be accompanied by measures aimed at containing expenditure, otherwise their financing will be at the expense of raising the known high tax burden, or an irresponsible increase in public debt.

In addition to extreme weather events, it cannot be ignored that the next government will face an adverse international scenario, involving inflation and recession in developed countries, economic slowdown in China impacting commodity exports, energy crisis in Europe, hunger in Africa and an unpredictable trajectory. in Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

In the context of the enormous needs of the Brazilian State, it would be advisable, although unlikely, to implement a program to restructure public spending, which would honor the efficiency, proclaimed in art. 37 of the Constitution, and eliminate spending.

There is an inexhaustible list of expenses that drain revenue and compromise the provision of public services: the evil secret budget, a permanent source of misuse of public money and corruption; the positions of deputy in the Executive Power of the Union, States and Municipalities; parliamentary “representation” quotas; the remuneration and “advising” of councilors in small municipalities, which subsist at the expense of transfers; the remuneration of public agents for participation in boards of state-owned companies; the working hours of the military police, which allows the provision of private services or participation in “militias”; the “indemnities” in the Legislative and Judiciary Powers, and in the Public Ministry; the excess of diplomatic representations abroad, without any economic or political foundation; double vacations and conversion into remuneration, special holidays and recesses in the Judiciary and the Public Ministry. Utopia? Certainly.

 

 

Senate Bill provides for combating persistent debtor

At the moment when the implementation of a new Refis, for the renegotiation of companies' debts, is being evaluated, the discussion about the search for compensatory measures arises.

In this sense, there is an initiative ready to be voted on by the plenary of the Federal Senate that will allow the fight against the persistent debtor, who bleeds the federal coffers in the order of R$ 14 billion a year, only in the fuel market. It is PLS 284/17 that provides, among a series of measures, the objective distinction between debtors: the eventual debtor e the reiterated debtor (who will not be affected by said PLS) and the persistent debtor, this yes, must be fought, therefore, it is structured intentionally to not pay the taxes due.

To get an idea of ​​liabilities, also in the fuel sector, active debts reach R$ 70 billion. Which corresponds, for example, to 8% of the GDP of Minas Gerais last year.

PLS 284/17 was reported by Senator Fabiano Contarato (PT-ES) and was approved by several committees and now it only depends on the President of the Federal Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG) to move forward and be guided. The delay in approving this project encourages the persistent debtor, harming the public coffers and society as a whole.

For the president of ETCO (Brazilian Institute of Competition Ethics), Edson Vismona, who follows the progress of the agenda in Congress, the great challenge of the Brazilian legal system is to differentiate the defaulter from the persistent debtor. “Contumaz is not a taxpayer, he is a criminal, as he practices fraud in the exercise of his activities. The defaulter, on the other hand, wants to be up to date, but due to different circumstances they are unable to pay their tax obligations, this one deserves attention from the government and stimulus for its regularization, whereas the persistent must be repelled ”, he says.

Transnational Crime

The performance of criminal organizations in our country is known throughout society and has been fought by the police and intelligence forces, the Public Ministry (federal and state), the Federal Revenue and the Judiciary. 

Since the beginning of this century, however, we have seen not only growth in terms of presence on our borders (articulating smuggling, especially cigarettes and drug and arms trafficking) and in cities, but also as an expression of financial, logistical and in the use of heavy weapons, facing the State. 

The criminal structure became sophisticated, with levels of governance, expanding its action in all regions of Brazil and advancing through South American countries, increasing its power and, according to the report of experts in the fight against organized crime, infiltrating the three powers of the Republic and influencing elections. 

The tentacles are felt in cities besieged by what is called the “new cangaço” that promote the theft of banks, transport companies and create market reserve in communities selling cigarettes, stolen cargo, cable TV, real estate, structuring the traffic of drugs and weapons, distribution of fuel, gas and electricity. They occupy the space that should belong to the State. 

We have already had unusual scenes of “salves” paralyzing the largest city in Brazil and articulating rebellions in prisons across all the states of the federation.  

This reality demonstrates that we must invest more and better in its fight in a coordinated way, using information and intelligence, especially to target financial transactions and money laundering operations. 

We advanced with the creation of GAECOS in the Public Ministry; Intelligence and Control Centers in the States; of the Secretariat for Integrated Operations and the Integrated Center for Border Operations in the Ministry of Justice and Security, Integrated Border Protection Program in the Institutional Security Office, but the strengthening of the COAF - Financial Activities Control Council was lacking. 

Understanding the dimension of the problem should help identify the means to combat it. The entire existing state structure must be increasingly integrated and coordinated, using technology, crossing information and mapping crime areas, collecting data and, fundamentally, sharing them between institutions. 

I had the opportunity to visit the National Center for the Coordination of Intellectual Property Rights in the United States (IPR Center) and witness a very interesting experience: a space that permanently brings together representatives from 25 US federal agencies and the Canadian and Mexican governments, assessing threats, defining actions and sharing information, this last point, in the view of the Americans and also because of what we have identified in Brazil, is the biggest challenge. Those who have the information resist sharing, creating serious obstacles to actions. In a speech, the US Secretary of Justice said that 11/XNUMX demonstrated how damaging the lack of inter-agency information exchange can be. 

In Brazil, the Federal Court of Auditors presented, in 2018, a report evaluating the application of resources in the control of our borders and made important recommendations for those responsible for security: Development of integrated and coordinated work between agencies; promotion of coalitions; face differences, identify conflicts, map processes. 

Internally, the promotion of these initiatives represents a great challenge, however, we must consider that we must face an even more complex challenge, to undertake this cooperative attitude between countries, which also suffer from the presence of criminal organizations operating in their territories, challenging the sovereignty and affronting public security. Argentina and Paraguay have already identified actions structured by branches of the most articulated Brazilian criminal faction. The Argentine authorities even point to links with Hezbollah, which has strengthened the logistics for international drug and arms trafficking. 

The actions of criminals are increasingly bold. A sad example occurred recently with the murder of the Paraguayan prosecutor, Marcelo Pecci, who was active in the fight against organized crime, and, let us not forget, the murder of the Brazilian judge Antonio Machado Dias, who performed the function of inspector of prisons in the interior of São Paulo in 2003. These crimes and the constant threats suffered by prosecutors, judges and police fighting criminal factions in Brazil and Latin American countries attest to the urgent need for a more intense connection of police and intelligence forces between countries.  

To combat transnational crime, it is imperative that there are permanent institutional actions that allow for interaction between governments, public ministries and the judiciary. Certainly, ideological disputes cannot prevent the strengthening of this Latin American public security defense strategy.

Article: Young people, ethics and the job market

In this century, we are experiencing profound changes in the job market, from the dominance of the use of digital tools to the growth, with the pandemic, of the so-called telework. The impact on everyone's lives was vast.

Adapting to changes has been more difficult for the so-called analogue generations, who have to deal with paradigms they did not have in their training, but the younger ones also face new challenges, especially related to entering the job market.

At the end of March, Instituto Coca-Cola, ETCO and Cufa – Central Única das Favelas held a Live on this topic: Ethics, Youth and the World of Work with the participation of young people who have been looking to get their first job. . It became clear that professional training, the incorporation of technology, the understanding of how the organizational structure of companies works, the sense of responsibility and innovation are important factors, but the behavior, the rules of coexistence start to be demanded in both directions: from market with young people and young people with companies. The questions show that attitudes, previously not so considered, have become decisive.

Young people want to know what possibilities they will have for their professional development; if the company encourages participation, giving freedom to express their opinion; if the schedule is flexible, finally, through a better balance between personal and professional life, aspects related to happiness are presented. It is interesting to note that in a survey carried out by Linkedin, the answers related to money (salary increase, earning more than your friends) were at a lower level.

This is the portrait of the positioning of young people, as by the companies, there is also a concern about the posture of young people in relation to values ​​and principles, practices related to professional practice can be taught, but understanding what is right, honesty, character , respect must be seen as an attitude that precedes work skills.

In fact, this understanding of ethical values ​​was demonstrated in the national survey carried out by ETCO/Datafolha on the perception of ethics by young people, where these questions were pointed out when they think about what it means to be ethical.

This view of ethics in the labor market was also attested in another survey carried out by the Eureca consultancy, indicating that young people consider that ESG metrics should be respected by companies, thus defending the environment, issues related to inclusion, diversity , governance, anti-corruption are charged.

In this aspect, there is a clear convergence, young people and companies are increasingly moving towards new postures and purposes, seeking a healthier, more ethical and welcoming work environment, strengthening their identity and the satisfaction of belonging to the organization.

The data presented in these researches are interesting indications of the moment we are living, of the need to face new postures, in a clear sense of the evolution of behaviors and requirements.

Constant adaptation is necessary, the dogmatic posture has become outdated, the exercise of values ​​has become the rule.

This reality, on the one hand, demonstrates a sense of progress in expectations, on the other, it arouses my concern, as we realize, not only in Brazil, but throughout the world, that leaderships, especially in the political sphere, do not show that they are aligned with this moment that presents itself as disruptive, the old is left behind, but the new has not yet been consolidated, the discourse needs to be put into practice.

It is not without reason that the young man has shown a distance from politics. He does not see in our institutions a commitment to the standards they defend, which do not share his worldview. This is nothing new, the youth always questioned the status quo, however, they identified in the exercise of politics an action that could make changes possible, hence the student movement. Today, however, I see a disillusionment, a dismay with the exercise of politics as an effective pact with the public interest.

Our obligation, as social and business organizations, is clear, we have to defend a clear attitude of defense and practice of values ​​that strengthen our purpose and involve the youngest. They point out what they want, we need to pave the way, to help reach the common destiny.

Brazil: Losses and gains

When identifying losses caused by an action, we seek to demonstrate the losses in values ​​to facilitate the understanding and extent of the damages.

Thus, when estimating the impact of the illegal market; the size of informality and tax litigation, we extract figures that reflect the losses and, consequently, the gains if this space were occupied by legality, formality and rationality in the application of our tax system.

We have institutions that develop metrics trying to gauge the dimension of these deviations.

ETCO developed with IBRE/FGV the underground economy index carried out since 2003 and which in 2021 it reached the figure of R$ 1.3 trillion which represents 16,8% of the Brazilian GDP and with the consultancy EY sponsored an international study that found that the tax litigation, in administrative and judicial instances, reaches the astounding amount of R$ 3.4 trillion.

Concerning informality in Brazilian retail The IDV — Instituto para o Desenvolvimento do Varejo carried out a survey with the consultancy McKinsey & Company that indicates that tax evasion in physical retail is 25% to 34% and in digital retail it ranges from 33% to 37% of sales (which has continuous growth in the offer of illegal products and without invoice), with values ​​between R$ 95 and R$ 125 billion.

The National Forum Against Piracy and Illegality collects data from 15 productive sectors (clothing; fuel; personal hygiene, perfumery and cosmetics; alcoholic beverages; pesticides; pay TV; cigarettes; sporting goods; eyewear; PCs; software; cell phones; audiovisual; imported perfumes and toys) since 2014 and the survey for the year 2021 shows that these sectors had losses of BRL 205.8 billion, which added to BRL 94,7 billion (conservative estimate of an average of 46% of uncollected taxes) reaches the amount of R$ 300.5 billion. Compared to 2014, the illegal market (smuggling, piracy, counterfeiting and fraud) grew three times.

These figures of billions and trillions of reais related to the losses of industry, commerce and the formal economy make us wonder what would be the gain for the generation of jobs, revenue and impulse for our development and innovation. A simple example, adding the evasion of retail and industry indicated only in the IDV and FNCP surveys, it would be possible to finance 18 million family grants for more than 38 months with a monthly amount of R$ 300.

These projections are limited to numbers and what could be generated in gains for society as a whole, however these losses for society cannot be measured only in monetary values, as they have other consequences, whether for public safety, increased corruption and decreased productive investments.

Our police and IRS forces (federal, state and municipal) prove that criminal organizations are financed with these withheld resources, also encouraging drug and arms trafficking.

On the other hand, employment level is affected. Factories were closed and others are under threat, including the growth of persistent debtor companies that are structured to never pay taxes and, thus, erode competition. The fuel and tobacco sectors have suffered from this action, but the textile sector has also been shaken.

The various faces of illegality and the operations of persistent debtors form a criminal economic phenomenon, which has to be attacked by supply and demand. Offer, with repression, through integrated and coordinated actions of police forces and revenue.

The demand, on the other hand, is motivated by the price, which is lower in the illegal one thanks to evasion and must be faced with changes in the tax system. An example of what can be done is the recent simplification of the ICMS charge on fuels, defining the single-phase and single rate for all states, which should reduce the space for evaders.

In fact, we cannot underestimate the effects of the illegal market and the consequent tax evasion. The magnitude of the losses and what could be turned into gains for the whole society demonstrate that illegality must be permanently on the agenda of the productive sectors and the public power, which must act in cooperation in the fight against those who despise the law. . Os damages cannot be ignored, as they harm all Brazilians who bear their obligations and our expectations for the future.