By Stacy Carmichael-James
DemeraraTobacco Company (DEMTOCO) has announced a $2.8B profit for the year ending December 2016, which represents a marginal decline of 2.3% from 2015, but despite this, the company continues to face challenges due to the existence of the illicit trading of tobacco.
Managing Director of DEMTOCO, Maurlain Kirton speaking to the media following the company’s Annual General Meeting held on Wednesday (April 19, 2017) at the Pegasus Hotel, said apart from the challenges in business operations, the company has been able to deliver the shareholder value as expected in terms of dividends.
However, the company she noted still faces challenges from the cigarette smuggling trade, as such the call is being made for a level playing field.
Her sentiments were reinforced by Felicio Ferraz, who in his chairman’s report said the economic business and wider environment continue to remain a challenge for the tobacco company in 2017. He noted that the widely available smuggled brands of cigarettes are hurting the company.
Meantime, Kirton made it clear that DEMTOCO is not opposed to competition but that which is fair. “Another area in existence is the regulation, the company has been for balanced regulation…the impending passing of the Tobacco Bill…we are supportive but the concern has to do with a balanced regulation,” she noted.
DEMTOCO had called for consultations with the relevant authorities regarding the Tobacco Legislation, which was deemed as draconian mainly because of the intended ban on public smoking and the prohibiting of advertising and sponsorship from Tobacco companies.
Meanwhile, the company pointed to its ‘Youth No Smoking Campaign’ which it initiated with the aim of bringing awareness to retailers that tobacco is an adult product and should not be sold to persons under the age of 18 and those who appear to be.