Senate Committee Recommends an Extension in Mobile Phone Registration Deadline

The Senate Standing committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication, on Thursday, recommended an extension in the deadline for blocking unregistered Mobile Phones in the country.

The parliamentary panel met with Rubina Khalid in the chair, where PTA briefed the body regarding its decision to block un-registered IMEI cell phones indicating steps taken to create awareness among the general public on the issue as directed by the committee in its last meeting.

The committee expressed dissatisfaction over non-compliance of its recommendation with respect to a briefing on mobile blocking process and public awareness before blocking any mobile phone in the country.

The Senate body has stated that all stakeholders including PTA, Customs/FBR, industry and Finance ministry should hold a consultation to present an applicable solution regarding the easy registration process within two weeks.

The committee also raised a question that if the deadline regarding tax collection could be extended then why can the mobile phone registration date not be extended.

The committee also expressed serious concerns over huge duties placed on mobile import/personal use and recommended a uniform duty structure to bring mobile prices on par with other countries.

During the demonstration in the meeting, PTA failed to satisfy Senators over non-provision of an online verification facility for those bringing mobile phones as gifts from abroad.

PTA has started blocking cell phones with unauthorized IMEI numbers from December 1, 2018, but those phones which entered Pakistan without proper customs clearance have been allowed to be cleared from PTA after payment of duties and taxes.

Earlier, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had announced that all mobile phones smuggled into Pakistan will be blocked after December 31.

He said that the government will introduce Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS), which will block stolen and smuggled cell phones, rendering them useless.

The purpose of DIRBS is to ensure that non-compliant cellphones are not imported, sold, advertised or connected to cellular networks in order to protect cellphone user data across the country.

Fawad Chaudhry said that used mobile phones worth around Rs. 2.5 billion are illegally brought to Pakistan every year.

The minister stressed the need for encouraging local mobile phone manufacturers, adding the government could also impose a ban on the import of used phones.

According to PTA, subscribers can verify the authenticity of their cell phone devices by sending an SMS to 8484 and can visit or download the DIRBS Android app from the Google Play Store or App Store.

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