Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has received 20,000 complaints regarding the illegal registration of mobile phones, an official from the PTA informed The Express Tribune. Criminals in an attempt to evade heavy taxes imposed by the government on cellular devices stole travel information and passport numbers of thousands of passengers coming from abroad to Pakistan and registered cellphones illegally under their name.
The complaints being registered are mostly concerned with the illegal registration of handsets through Device Identification Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS). The official also revealed that the authorities have transferred hundreds of cases regarding illegal registration to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) who have also made several arrests in this regard.
Due to these illegal registrations, many passengers and international travelers are unable to register a mobile phone duty and tax-free under DIRBS and have been denied their legal right. PTA has reported these cases to the FIA but the number of complaints is increasing with each passing day. The PTA official said that with keeping in view the increasing number of complaints and the limited resource count in the FIA, it is difficult to resolve this matter quickly.
Moreover, the passengers are also facing the same problem at the airports as neither customs nor other airport agencies have separate individuals or resources managing the registration of mobile devices.
The PTA member said in order to bring a sudden boost in tax revenue, the PTI government haphazardly imposed heavy duties and taxes on mobile phones for which the telecom regulators and other government agencies were not fully prepared.
Moreover, the phones which the PTA blocked through DIRBS are being unblocked on the black market at Rs. 2000 and Rs. 3000 depending on the type of handset. This issue was also raised in the meeting between Senate standing committee and the Ministry of Information Technology where Senator Mian Mohammad Ateeq Shaikh said that these mobile phones being unblocked at this cheap rate would have fetched the national treasury more than Rs. 30,000.
All of these problems regarding mobile registration shows that government without any planning started DIRBS which has caused many international travelers their legal right to bring a duty-free phone in Pakistan. The government must resolve these complaints quickly to regain the trust of the passengers and travelers coming from other countries and should facilitate them accordingly.