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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan imported mobile phones worth $1.535 billion during July-March (2020-21) compared to $979.965 million in July-March (2019-20), showing growth of 56.74 percent, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) data.

The overall telecom imports into the country during the period under review increased by 43.76 percent by going up from $1.337 billion in 2019-20 to $1.923 billion during the current fiscal year.

On year-on-year basis, the imports of mobile phones into Pakistan increased by 95.58 percent during March 2021, when compared to the imports of the same month of last year.

The mobile phone imports during March 2021 were recorded at $224.502 million against the imports of $114.786 million during March 2020, the PBS data revealed.

On month-on-month basis, the mobile phone imports increased by 27.69 percent in March 2021, when compared to the imports of $175.821 million in February 2021.

On year-on-year basis, the overall telecom imports into Pakistan increased by 78.28 percent during March 2021, when compared to the imports of the same month of last year.

The telecom imports during March 2021 were recorded at $303.564 million against the imports of $170.273 million during March 2020.

On month-on-month basis, the overall telecom imports increased by 27.95 percent in March 2021, compared to the imports of $237.257 million in February 2021.

Other apparatus imports during July-March (2020-21) increased by 8.24 percent by going up from $357.890 million in 2019-20 to $387.366 million during the current fiscal year.

According to the sector experts the implementation of Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) has resulted in significant increase in legal import of mobile devices.

Further it helped in establishment of over 33 local assembly plants of mobile devices.

These plants have produced over 25 million mobile devices including 4G smart phones, since implementation of the system.

With the successful execution of the DIRBS, the local assembly industry has evolved from infancy to well growing stage, with significant growth seen in local assembly of smart phones.

In 2019, only 119,639 smartphones were assembled locally, whereas, in 2020, the number of such devices grew to 2.1 million. At the end of the second month of 2021, 1.21 million smartphones have so far been assembled in Pakistan.

In the light of this impact of the DIRBS, the government of Pakistan has introduced a comprehensive Mobile Manufacturing Policy to encourage and attract manufactures to Pakistan and establish their plants.

The PTA has issued Mobile Device Manufacturing (MDM) Regulations and has started receiving mobile device manufacturing applications.

This initiative will help create more jobs in this technical sector, as well as enable consumers to buy locally-manufactured mobile devices.

Pakistan has the distinction of implementing the world’s first open-source, full-fledged DIRBS.

This system has the ability to identify all IMEIs latched on Pakistan's mobile networks and to categorise them based on their compliant status.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) with the help of the PTA has collected around Rs100 billion, since, the implementation of the DIRBS as mobile devices imports via legal channels increased by around 70 percent. According to the data released by the PTA, the import of mobile devices via legal channels has increased from 17.2 million in 2018 to 28.02 million in 2019 (63 percent increase) due to the implementation of the DIRBS.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021