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Turkey Saw Increased Smuggling In 2010
Tuesday, 04-Jan-2011 9:24PM United Press International
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ISTANBUL, Turkey, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Turkey saw an increase in 2010 in the amount of red meat and gasoline smuggled into the country, an official said.

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Customs Protection Director General Neset Akkoc said in Istanbul that between January and November, customs officials seized more than 12 times more red meat and more than five times more fuel than in 2009, Today's Zaman of Turkey reported Tuesday.

The main reason for the surge in these smuggled commodities is the increase in prices, Akkoc said.

During the first 11 months of last year, 32.2 tons of red meat -- up from 2.5 tons in 2009 -- and 30,579 tons of fuel -- up from 5.983 tons in 2009 -- were seized.

"Greedy" store owners who did not apply a "measure of fairness" were blamed for raising the price of domestically produced meat, said Agriculture and Rural Affairs Minister Mehdi Eker.

The government said the increasing cost of crude oil and the depreciation of the Turkish lira are partly to blame for gasoline price hikes, but also said the 65 percent tax on gas contributed to the higher prices.

"We did not increase the tax by even one cent in 2010. We will have the same policy next year, too. If we can, we want to continue this trend", Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek said, adding gasoline taxes were more than 70 percent in 2002.

Cars, tobacco, alcoholic drinks and food followed red meat and gasoline in the number of items confiscated at customs.

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