Govt is Working on an Amnesty Scheme for Legalizing Smuggled Phones

The government is likely to announce a new amnesty scheme for legalization of smuggled and illegally imported Mobile Phones on payment of duties/taxes and fine up to 20-25 percent.

Sources revealed that the proposed amnesty scheme for the legalization of smuggled and illegally imported mobile phones was discussed during the visit of Finance Minister Asad Umar to Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

Asad Umar was informed about the FBR’s strategy to meet revenue collection targets for second quarter (October-December) of 2018-19, estimated revenue from the Finance Supplementary (Amendment) Bill, 2018 and action against high-net individuals.

The finance minister was also informed about the positive impacts of international mobile equipment identity (IMEI) system for mobile handsets on revenue collection of the FBR. A meeting between chairman FBR and chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is expected on today (October 16) on the issue of IMEIs system for mobile handsets and deadline of October 20 for verification of IMEIs.

According to sources, the FBR shared the salient features of the amnesty scheme for legalization of smuggled and illegally imported mobile phones in Pakistan.

Under the proposed amnesty scheme, an option would be given to regularise the illegally imported mobile devices on one-time basis and on payment of duty/taxes along with 20-25 percent fine. This would be subject to the issuance of Certificate of Compliance (COC) by PTA in relaxation of their policy/rules applicable thereon. The amnesty scheme would be available on the phones to be activated after October 20, 2018 up to November 30, 2018.

The FBR is legally empowered under section 181 of the Customs Act, 1969 to regularise such mobile devices.

Tax authorities have informed finance minister that the mobile phone and DIRBS mobile devices are brought into the country either through commercial imports or imported by individuals in accompanied baggage/ courier. Such mobile phones are also brought into Pakistan illegally through informal channels/ smuggling.

The commercial import of mobile devices is already regulated as Custom’s WeBOC module consignments having PTA issued Type Approval/ Certificate of Compliance (CoC) are allowed routine clearance, sources said.

After the implementation of DIRBS by October 20, 2018, only duty paid legally imported compliant mobile devices will be allowed for mobile communication service through DIRBS. However, there would be no affect on mobile phones activated prior to the launch of DIRBS.

It has been informed that the PTA has launched public awareness campaign, but still majority is either unaware or does not know about its consequences. It has been highlighted that once devices are blocked, large uproar is expected.

Meanwhile, a meeting was held between Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar and importers of mobile phones at the FBR House.

On the conclusion of meeting, President All Pakistan Mobile Phone Association Babar Mehmood and General Secretary Sajjad Butt said that the government has agreed in principal to extend the deadline of October 20 for verification of IMEIs. They said that the FBR and PTA would hold a meeting in this regard.

They said that importers are ready to work out a viable mechanism for payment of duties and taxes on the import of mobile phones with the assistance of FBR. They said they fully support the FBR’s move of legal and documented imports of mobile phones for which a mutually agreed system would be finalized for payment of duties and taxes on the imported phones.

  • According to finance minister, only a few thousand iPhones are documented while there are more than 200000 are working in this country imagine how much revenue government will generate if they manage to document or force importers to document the devices and pay duties/taxes.

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