Tech and Telecom

PTA Rubbishes Rumors of Any Change in Registration and Taxes for Mobile Phones

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has rubbished the rumors of a change in the registration process and applicable duties/taxes for mobile devices.

PTA spokesperson Khurram Ali Mehran told this correspondent that there is no change in the registration process and applicable duties/taxes. All mobile devices can currently be used for 60 days without registration or paying any taxes from the first day of usage. However, beyond 60 days, they will be blocked automatically, if not registered, he added.

There were rumors in the market for the last few days that people having non-Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) approved cell phones rejoiced to see local cellular networks on their handsets again. They took to social media to advise others to activate their subscribers’ identification module (SIMs) in their blocked phones.

While some consider it a technical glitch, rumors were rife that the Shehbaz Sharif-led government has abolished the hefty tax on expensive cell phones and directed the PTA to unblock the devices. The implementation of the Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) in 2019 has resulted in a significant increase in legal import of mobile devices and the establishment of over 33 local assembly plants of mobile devices in Pakistan.

These plants have produced over 50 million mobile devices, including 4G smartphones, since the implementation of the system. With the successful execution of the DIRBS, the local assembly industry has evolved from infancy to a well-growing stage, with significant growth seen in the local assembly of smartphones.

In 2019, only 119,639 smartphones were assembled locally, whereas, in 2020, the number of such devices grew to 2.1 million. The manufactured/assembled mobile phone handsets by local manufacturing plants during the calendar year 2021 stood at 24.66 million compared to 13.05 million in 2020, i.e., an 88 percent increase.

In the light of this impact of the DIRBS, the Government of Pakistan has introduced a comprehensive Mobile Manufacturing Policy to encourage and attract manufacturers to Pakistan and establish their plants. The PTA has issued Mobile Device Manufacturing (MDM) Regulations and has started receiving mobile device manufacturing applications.

This initiative will help create more jobs in this technology sector as well as enable consumers to buy locally-manufactured mobile devices. Pakistan has the distinction of implementing the world’s first open-source, full-fledged DIRBS. This system has the ability to identify all IMEIs latched on Pakistan’s mobile networks and categorize them based on their compliant status. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), with the help of the PTA, has collected more than Rs. 100 billion, since the implementation of the DIRBS as mobile device imports via legal channels, increased by around 70 percent.

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ProPK Staff