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ISLAMABAD: The country imported mobile phones worth $1.860 billion during July-May 2020-21 compared to $1.138 billion during the same period last year (2019-20), showing growth of 63.40 percent, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) data.

The overall telecom imports during the period under review, increased by 47.18 percent by going up from $1.587 billion in 2019-20 to $12.337 billion during the current fiscal year.

On year-on-year basis, the imports of mobile phones increased by 58.03 percent during May 2021, when compared to the imports of the same month of last year.

The mobile phone imports during May 2021 were recorded at $175.501 million against the imports of $111.056 million during May 2020, the PBS data revealed.

On month-on-month basis, the mobile phone imports decreased by 17.79 percent in May 2021, when compared to the imports of $148.992 million in April 2021.

On year-on-year basis, the overall telecom imports into the country increased by 38.87 percent during May 2021 when compared to the imports of the same month of last year.

The telecom imports during May 2021 were recorded at $22.696 million against the imports of $158.925 million during May 2020.

On month-on-month basis, the overall telecom imports increased by 14.27 percent in May 2021, compared to the imports of $193.137 million in April 2021.

Other apparatus imports during July-May (2020-21) increased by 6.10 percent from $449.299 million in 2019-20 to $476.709 million during the current fiscal year.

The Economic Survey 2020-21 noted that Mobile Device Manufacturing policy has been approved to promote local manufacturing and assembly of mobile handsets.

Pakistan enjoys low-cost labour advantage, a reasonably large home market having more than 178 million subscribers which have increased approximately one percent per month during the last one year, 83.3 percent tele-density and efficient Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) in place, which make Pakistan an attractive market for mobile assembly.

Government is all set to make mobile phone manufacturing industry larger than automobile in terms of turnover in few years and employment is expected to grow manifold.

Due to the introduction of the DIRBS, legal imports have increased significantly and local manufacturing has also picked up.

The government decided to introduce a comprehensive mobile manufacturing policy to encourage and attract mobile manufacturing players to come to Pakistan and establish their plants.

The mobile manufacturing policy was approved by the federal cabinet in June 2020, and in light of this policy, the PTA has published Mobile Device Manufacturing (MDM) regulations on 28th January 2021.

Till date, seven companies have obtained 10-year mobile device manufacturing authorisation and will manufacture mobile devices including 4G smart phones within Pakistan.

The taxes/duties collected from individual consumers, which prior to the DIRBS was an untapped area for revenue collection, stands at Rs13.93 billion during the period January 2019 to March 2021.

On the commercial import side, the revenue of Rs22 billion during 2018-19 increased to 83 billion for the period from January 2019 to November 2020.

This is a significant increase, despite economic slowdown caused by the pandemic.

Impacts of the DIRBS on economy, (a) PTA has blocked 175 thousand devices IMEI reported as stolen through DIRBS, (b) System has also identified and blocked 26.03 million fake/replica mobile devices since 2019 identified as programmed with non-GSMA formation, (c) The system has been successfully able to identify cloned/duplicated IMEI, whereby 657,645 IMEI were cloned against 4.24 million MSISDN. The launch of the DIRBS has also had a significant impact on development of mobile device ecosystem as companies now have a level playing field.

As per figures extracted from the DIRBS, it is observed that there is substantial growth in 4G devices that are connected to local mobile networks and the pattern also shows a decline in use of 2G, 3G devices with consumer appetite shifting towards 4G functionality devices.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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