The restoration of facility of duty-free import of mobile phones by international passengers would be linked with the implementation of a foolproof system such as biometric verification to check misuse of the scheme.
Sources revealed that the government is considering restoration of the facility. However, the government has is putting in place a mechanism to check misuse of the facility. In this regard, biometric verification of international passengers is under consideration. Once a foolproof system is in place, the government may restore the facility.
Free Mobile Phone to be Linked with Biometric Verification to Avoid Misuse of Scheme
The recommendation for allowing duty-free import of mobile phones under Baggage Rules would be tabled before the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet.
Baggage Rules were misused in the past, compelling the government to withdraw the facility, they said, adding that duty/taxes were applicable on import of every mobile phone set.
According to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the duty-free import of mobile phones by international passengers was withdrawn vide amended SRO 689 (I) 2019 dated 29 June, 2019.
They said that the SRO was made effective from July 1, 2019.
The reasons for withdrawal of duty-free allowance were that the facility was being misused due to leakage of identity by certain travel agents and the immigration staff.
Data of international passengers was being stolen and the passport numbers and flight data were being used to enter data details in the mobile device registration software to claim exemption under the baggage rules.
Further expensive mobile devices were mostly being registered by using international passengers’ data.
Furthermore, the government desired that there should be uniformity in application of duty/taxes whether brought into Pakistan by passengers or locally procured, and, therefore, the exemption was withdrawn to avoid this anomaly.
However, no final decision has been reached on reviewing taxation and allowing duty-free import of mobile phones.