Heavier fine to be imposed for smuggling meat from overseas: COA

Taipei, In the wake of an increase in the number of travelers illegally bringing meat products from overseas into Taiwan, most notably from China, the maximum fine is to be increased to NT$300,000 (US$9,685), a government official said Thursday.

"The Council of Agriculture (COA) is set to amend the law and raise the fine from NT$15,000 to NT$300,000, to stop such actions," COA Deputy Minister Chen Chi-chung (???), said at a legislative meeting.

Effective Oct. 18, anyone caught carrying meat products, whether raw or processed, from other countries into Taiwan will be fined NT$18,000, the COA announced Monday as part of government efforts to prevent African swine fever (ASF) from entering Taiwan.

"Amid repeat offenses, serious and minor infractions are to be subject to the same punishment," Chen said when answering questions from reporters after the meeting.

The COA will present a draft amendment to the law to the Executive Yuan as soon as possible, in the hope that it will be approved by the Legislative Yuan in one to two months, before the current legislative session ends, Chen said.

Echoing Chen's remarks, Feng Hai-tung (???), director-general of the COA's Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ), confirmed to CNA that the council is working toward that end, at a time when ASF is spreading fast in China.

From Sept. 1 to Oct. 14, a total of 181 cases of meat smuggling from China were uncovered by customs officers, with 25 involving raw pork resulting in fines of NT$15,000 each and the rest NT$3,000 per case, according to COA statistics.

Since the outbreak of ASF in China on Aug. 3, the disease has spread to eight provinces and the situation is deteriorating, according to the BAPHIQ, which warned it has the potential to decimate the local hog-farming industry if it enters Taiwan.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel