In a major policy shift in the telecom sector, the PTI government is planning to allow import of used mobile phones in Pakistan, ProPakistani has confirmed from reliable sources.
Import of used and old mobile phones is currently not allowed in Pakistan as per Ministry of Commerce and Federal Board of Revenue notifications.
However, this is going to change as the government is considering allowing the import of used smartphones, with an aim to cut the import bill as smartphones comprise a major portion of the imports in Pakistan.
According to sources, the Federal Cabinet meeting to be held tomorrow (November 23, 2018) will approve a revised government policy on the import of used mobile devices including cellular phones.
A summary has been prepared by the Ministry of Information Technology in this regard, we have confirmed with sources, that will be presented before the Prime Minister Imran Khan for approval.
Official sources said that the allowance of used smartphones in Pakistan will not only decrease the national import bill but will also mean lower duties and tax-rates on these devices that will ultimately benefit the common man.
If allowed and notified by the government, authorized distributors and dealers of mobile companies, as well as the commercial importers, would be allowed to import old and used phones in the country.
DIRBS is Not Going Away
While the government has plans to allow the import of used mobile phones, it also wants to ensure that whatever comes into Pakistan is brought through legal channels only.
For the purpose, the Federal Cabinet will also approve measures to check smuggling of imported mobile phones and issue a new deadline for verification of IMEIs by the general public.
Federal Cabinet will be informed that there are only two legal ways of bringing mobile phones into Pakistan, i.e. through commercial imports or through the individuals bringing in the phones (in a personal capacity) from abroad.
Cabinet will be briefed that all illegal channels, besides above two, will be blocked to ensure that all mobile devices in Pakistan are regulated and tax paid.
It may be recalled that Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has already extended the deadline for implementation of Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS).
The DIRBS has been developed to identify substandard, fake and illegally imported mobile phones as well as register and block noncompliant devices on mobile phone networks.
The PTA launched DIRBS in line with the Telecom Policy-2015 on May 10, 2018. It included mapping and identification of IMEIs and blocking of stolen/lost devices.
The government is also expected to announce a new amnesty scheme for the legalization of smuggled and illegally imported mobile phones on payment of duties/taxes and fine up to 20-25%.
Under the proposed amnesty scheme, an option will be given to regularize the illegally imported mobile devices on one-time basis and on payment of duty/taxes along with 20-25 percent fine.
This will be subject to the issuance of Certificate of Compliance (COC) by PTA in relaxation of their policy/rules applicable thereon. The amnesty scheme will be available on the phones to be activated after October 20, 2018 up to November 30, 2018.
The FBR has been legally empowered under section 181 of the Customs Act, 1969 to regularize such mobile devices.