SINGAPORE – Last year, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) foiled 93 attempts to smuggle more than 10,000 Covid-19 test kits of various brands that were not authorized by the Health Sciences Authority.
Revealing these figures to the Straits Times, the ICA added that its agents had also detected four attempts to smuggle more than 2,500 ivermectin tablets.
Last October, a 65-year-old pensioner took the prescription drug, thinking it would protect her from Covid-19, and was hospitalized.
Ivermectin is intended to treat parasitic infestations.
In its annual report released Tuesday, February 15, the ICA said the attempts were among 5,860 cases of smuggling detected among low-value imported goods.
This represents an increase of nearly 40% from the 4,294 cases in 2020.
The ICA said it has seen more smuggling attempts via air cargo and parcels, specifically involving low-value goods. He said it was because consumers were turning to e-commerce and shopping online.
Goods of low value, the cost of which does not exceed $400, are not currently subject to the Goods and Services Tax.
The ICA told ST that the most common contraband items are e-cigarettes and their accessories, as well as pharmaceuticals.
These account for approximately 80% of all smuggling cases detected among imports of low-value goods.
Other contraband items detected included adulterated food products, cannabis extracts and Covid-19 test kits.
Meanwhile, the number of travelers allowed in and out of Singapore’s checkpoints has fallen by 86%, from 42 million in 2020 to 5.9 million in 2021.
The ICA attributed this to border closures and travel restrictions in many countries due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The volume of cargo – including shipments, containers and parcels – entering Singapore has seen a slight decline from 11.8 million units in 2020 to 10.9 million in 2021.
The decline in the number of travelers and vehicles entering Singapore has resulted in a one-third drop in the number of smuggling cases. A total of 27,000 contraband cases were detected in 2021, compared to 41,000 in 2020.
The CIA noted how in some of these cases the offenders used sophisticated concealment methods to conceal contraband cigarettes.
These include hiding them in air conditioning units, rolling paper drums and ventilation fans.