In an unexpected policy shift for the telecom sector, the government is planning to allow the import of used smartphones in Pakistan. The major reason for this change can be attributed to the fact that the government is aiming to cut the import bill since smartphones constitute a major portion of imports in Pakistan. However, DIRBS is not going anywhere, as the government is allowing imported smartphones to be used in Pakistan but through a legal channel. In order to ensure this the government is set to continue with the necessary checks which ensure the IMEI verification, therefore the cabinet has now finally announced the deadline for smuggled phones in the country which will be imposed after December 31.
According to the Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, the phones that have already been brought into the country via illegal means can still be used within the given time period, however, after Dec 31 these phones will not be allowed to operate. Chaudhry further said that the cabinet was also on the same page with this and has further decided to promote the local smartphone industry and henceforth a possible ban could be imposed on the import of mobile phones in the coming days.
According to the government’s data, around 82 million mobile entered the country through legal channels while a whopping 2.5 billion phones entered the country through illegal means per year. In order to counter this problem and the enormous number of smuggled phones that go under the government’s tax radar, the government, in a smart move, has decided to regularize the entry of the imported smartphone in Pakistan. As the Information Minister reiterated, the sale of second-hand smartphones was completely banned in the country but the selling and buying of used phones were being carried out freely. This decision to block illegally imported phones after 31st December and allowing legal import of used phones will certainly help this situation.