The government is considering to impose a regulatory duty (RD) along with a minor penalty on unregistered & used mobile phones. The duty levied will be contingent on the category the phone set falls in.
As per media reports, blocked mobile phones will be unblocked once the duty and the penalty have been paid at the nearest customs point.
For now, the government is mulling over how much of a regulatory duty it will charge on phones, depending on their make and model. The duty rates will be presented before the federal cabinet for approval before notifying them to the public.
Government is considering levying this duty in order to prevent the hefty losses it faces because of illegal phone imports. According to an estimate, annual revenue losses due to illegal phone imports amount to $1.5 billion.
Moreover, legal imports of mobile phones were valued at $847.656 million in 2017-18. The previous years have seen a sharp drop in legally imported mobile phones. These imports were once more than $1 billion, which resulted in an increased customs duty and ultimately led to the smuggling.
As for blocking the used and refurbished cell phones that have been smuggled in the country via different channels, authorities are going to employ the Device Identification, Registration, and Blocking System (DIRBS) mechanism.
Notably, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) rolled out the DIRBS system in May 2018 to prevent the smuggling of illegal and substandard phones in the country.
An official sources informed the media that from November 15, all consumers will have to text the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number of the handset to 8484. The IMEI number is printed on the box of a new cell phone.
After texting the IMEI, the consumer will receive a reply stating whether the set complies with the regulatory standards.
If the set is non-compliant, the customer will receive a text asking him/her to pay the customs duty along with the penalty within two months. It should be kept in mind that all the unregistered mobile phones will be blocked after two months.