The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is reportedly collecting duties/taxes on mobile phones which were imported by international travelers under the Baggage Rules (one duty-free mobile per passenger), it is learnt.
Official sources revealed that Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has taken up the matter with FBR while pleading that mobile phones imported before July 1, 2019 may be treated as per the Baggage rules.
FBR Should Not Collect Taxes on Phones Imported before July 1, 2019: PTA
As per directives issued by the federal government, all mobile devices which were already activated on cellular mobile networks within Pakistan by 15th January 2019 would remain operational without service disruption.
Even non-compliant devices in operation prior to this date were tied to these numbers and remained operational till the useful life of the device. In light of federal cabinet decision as of 15th January 2019, 357 million IMEI were converted to complaint and paired status.
All devices that were connected after 15th January 2019 were required to be registered within 60 days from 1st seen on the network. According to the official data, a total of 10,273,531 devices seen on the network were blocked on a rolling basis upon the lapse of 60 day period. Prior to blocking as per SOP, SMS was sent to consumer informing of the device being blocked due to non-registration.
Initially, the federal government decided that all mobile phones imported in the country by international travelers either personal use or commercial should be registered through Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) and in case of more than one phone, one has to pay taxes (one duty-free mobile phone was allowed).
However mobile phone would not be blocked automatically for 60 days and one has to register it with PTA during this period after paying duty/taxes (in case more than one phone). The federal government through the Finance Bill 2019-20 has revised the policy and withdrawn the facility of one duty-free mobile import in the country.
Sources in PTA revealed that it has been reported that Customs officials are collecting taxes on mobile phones which were imported before July 1, 2019, and covered under the Baggage rules. Ideally, mobile phones imported after July 1, should be taxed, sources added.
PTA raised the issue with FBR and asked the later not to collect taxes on mobile phones imported before July 1, 2019.
A total of 1,195,562 IMEI have been unblocked whereby registrations have been done. Sources further said that that there are complaints that despite payment of taxes, mobile phones devices were not unblocked.
The system is integrated with FBR all custom duties related matter are handled by FBR Web Server. Upon transmission of payments made from FBR devices are unblocked and sent for whitelisting.
DIRBS within its assigned mandate is required to ensure device IMEI is of standard formation, not cloned/duplicated or reported stolen. Misuse being done is in violation of FBR rules; PTA apart from reporting all misuse cases to FBR/FIA has included two-step authentication processes within the system.