ISLAMABAD: Since introducing the User Identity Registry and Blocking Scheme (Dirbs) in 2018, legal cell phone imports have risen by more than 90 per cent.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has announced that imports of mobile devices through legal networks have risen from 17.2 million in 2018 to 28.02 million sets in 2019, while over 32.8 million devices have been imported so far in the current calendar year 2020.
The PTA claimed that 175,000 devices that were declared stolen by Dirbs were blocked based on their IMEI number, adding that 24.3m false or replica mobile devices and 657,645 IMEIs that were cloned or duplicated after the Dirbs system started were also detected and blocked by the system.
The PTA also reported that the successful introduction of the scheme resulted in the formation of 29 local smartphone assembly companies while the smuggling and inflow of cheap sets was contained.
Since 2019, these facilities have developed over 20 m smartphones with over 1.5 m 4 G smart phones, the PTA said, continuing to state that the implementation of Dirbs has been a catalyst for the manufacture of local mobile devices” and that it will contribute to unlocking the ability to make Pakistan a centre for exports of mobile handsets.
Meanwhile the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has also raised a total of Rs90 billion in customs duties during the period from January 2019 to Nov 2020 since the introduction of Dirbs, the PTA said.
In addition, under the person classification, the FBR has collected Rs9bn.
A Mobile Device Manufacturing Policy (MDMP) was declared by the government in June of this year to provide local assemblers with incentives. Any assemblers currently working under this programme, or those about to join, have raised reservations about lingering problems that are still not enforced under the policy.
According to PTA info, Pakistan has 169 million cellular subscribers, of whom 85mn are 3G/4G subscribers. 3mn are basic subscribers for telephony and 85mn more are broadband subscribers. The statistics are as of August 2020.
Speaking to Dharti News in the background, they said it is not possible to enforce the localization provision in the policy in Pakistan as it would not be possible to generate displays, motherboards and batteries here.
The strategy has called for the removal of the Fixed Sales Tax on the manufacture of mobile devices by CKD/SKD’ as well as an exemption from the 4% withholding tax on domestic sales of locally produced devices, but industry players have not yet completed the introduction of these measures.