Mobile phones import witnessed a phenomenal growth of 19.28 percent in the first eleven months (July-May) of 2017-18 as it remained $759.969 million compared to $637.140 million during the same period in 2016-17 (July-May).
Mobile phone imports in May 2018, valued at $81.362 million, increased by 25.64 percent when compared to the $64.76 million imports in May 2017. Month on month, the imports have increased by 7.72 percent when compared to $75.53 million in April 2018. These figures were revealed by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) recently.
Overall telecom imports saw an increase of over 11.77 percent during July-May 2017-18 compared to the same period of last year. Total imports were recorded at $1.396 billion during this period compared to $1.249 billion in July-May 2016-17. Telecom imports remained $129.835 million in May 2018 and registered 10.39 percent growth, as compared to $ 117.613 million during May 2017.
Other telecom apparatus imports also witnessed growth of over 3.95 percent in July-May 2017-18 as it stood at $636.057 million against $611.872 million during the same period of last year.
The care-taker government is mulling new policy guidelines to reduce the import bill by rationalizing the import of mobile phone handsets and other telecom apparatus.
Pakistan’s trade deficit reached an all time high of $33.88 billion during the first eleven months of the current fiscal year with $55.23 billion imports and $21.34 billion exports.
Commerce Division has reportedly started preparing a list of non-essential items and the government is considering measures to rationalize non-essential imports to reduce the quantum of trade deficit.
To curtail growing imports and generate additional revenue, the federal government has announced a new kind of levy of up to Rs 5000 on importing mobile phone handsets in the budget for 2018-19.
According to the Finance Act 2018, there are plans to impose a mobile handset levy at the rates specified on smart phones of different categories.
- The levy will be zero where import value of handset (including duties and taxes) does not exceed Rs 10, 000.
- There will be a levy of Rs 1000 per set where import value of handset (including duties and taxes) exceeds Rs 10,000 but does not exceed Rs 40,000.
- There will be a levy of Rs 3000 where import value of handset (including duties and taxes) exceeds Rs 40,000 but does not exceed Rs 80,000.
- There will be a levy of Rs 5000 where import value of handset (including duties and taxes) exceeds Rs 80,000 per set.
According to the Finance Act, a levy of Regulatory Duty (RD) @ R s175/set on completely knocked down (CKD)/ semi-knocked-down (SKD) kits of mobile phone have been imposed.
However, according to experts, this may result in increase in mobile phone handsets prices as well as encourage the smuggling of mobile phones.