Deadline to register mobile phones extended

* Senator Rubina Khalid says people are facing difficulties pertaining to mobile registration and directed the PTA to make the system less complicated

The Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology & Telecommunications on Tuesday extended the deadline to register mobile phones by 10 days.

A day earlier, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had announced that unregistered, smuggled and stolen phones will be blocked on January 15. However, on the directives of the senate committee, the deadline has now been extended to January 25.

The parliamentary panel chaired by Senator Rubina Khalid was briefed regarding its decision to block unregistered mobile phones.

Rubina Khalid said the people are facing difficulties pertaining to mobile registration and directed the PTA to make the system less complicated. The duration for registration of mobile devices being brought to Pakistan needs to be extended for at least two months, the chairperson of the parliamentary committee recommended.

Earlier, the committee was briefed regarding the streamlining process for collection of customs duty on cell phones on arrival at all airports and extension in the time period to block unregistered mobile phones.

The meeting was informed that in order to create facilitation via technology, PTA has already implemented an online portal system allowing all concerned to sign-up with ease from their location via web services.

Upon submission of a request, the online portal system verifies the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) against database to ensure it is unique, not duplicated/cloned or reported stolen. Upon verification, the system white-lists the unique IMEI.

Further, the committee was informed that for international passengers, some options are being developed in consultation with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Cellular Mobile Operators for registration of mobile devices on arrival in Pakistan and duty collection. These include online registration of devices by individuals/international passengers.

In line with FBR baggage rules, international travellers are allowed to bring one mobile device which is duty/tax exempted as part of personal use import, the committee was further told. All such international passengers will be able to register their devices within 15 days of arrival in Pakistan through the online system.

Moreover, the individuals will be able to pay applicable customs duty/tax on devices through all major banks, online banking, ATM and through their mobile wallets.

For payment of customs duty and taxes on more than one device, upon entering the Computerised National Identity Card, passport number, IMEIs and mobile specs, the system will generate a Payment Slip Identity code along with duty and taxes which will be used to make the payment.

The modules for Device Identification, Registration & Blocking System (DIRBS) stakeholders being introduced include international Pakistani travellers, local (received device through courier), local (observed as valid after due date to pay custom duty to FBR) and foreigner.

The meeting was also informed that the implementation of DIRBS had been extended until January 15, 2019. However, the committee recommended that the deadline regarding implementation of DIRBS may be further extended.

Following this, the deadline for registration of mobile phones was extended by 10 days until January 25. IT & Telecom Minister Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, IT Secretary Maroof Afzal, senators, including Taj Afridi, Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh, Maulana Ghafoor Haideri and representatives of the relevant ministry, PTA, Customs and FBR attended the meeting.

Published in Daily Times, January 17th 2019.