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ISLAMABAD: Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunications was informed on Tuesday that an online portal system, developed for mobile IMEI registration, will be ready for soft testing by January 25.

The parliamentary panel met with Rubina Khalid in chair was briefed regarding its decision to block un-registered International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) cell phones indicating steps taken to create awareness among general public on the issue as directed by the committee in its last meeting.

Minister for IT and Telecom, Dr. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Secretary IT Maroof Afzal, Senators including Taj Afridi, Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh, Maulana Ghafoor Haideri and representatives of relevant Ministry, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Member Custom, Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) attended the meeting.

Senator Rubina Khalid said the people are facing a lot of difficulties pertaining to mobile registration and directed the PTA to make the system less complicated.

The Chairperson recommended that the duration for registration of mobile devices being brought inside Pakistan needs to be extended for at least two months.

Seeking explanation from Department concerned about duty structure on mobile devices, Senator Taj Afridi said the more duty means high mobile prices.

Maulana Ghafoor Haideri said s surge in duty and taxes may create negative impact on business activities.

Earlier, the departments briefed about streamlining process for collection of custom duty on cell phones on arrival at all airports, and extension in time period to block un-registered IMEI cell 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 be able to sign up with ease from their location via web services.

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

However, the official said for international passengers facilitation to register their mobile devices on arrival in Pakistan, as well as duty collection mandate of FBR/Customer and create facilitation for consumers, some options are being developed in consultation with FBR and Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs).

These include registration of devices through Website by an Individuals/international passenger through web, registration of device through mobile device system and registration through Cellular Mobile Franchisee network available all over Pakistan.

The official further informed that in line with FBR baggage rules, international traveler is allowed to bring one mobile device which is duty/tax exempted as part of personal use import. All such international passengers will be able to register their devices within 15 days of arrival in Pakistan from abroad through 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 feeding the Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC), Passport No. IMEIs and mobile specs, system will generate a Payment Slip Identity (PSID) code along with duty and taxes which will be used to make payment.

The modules for Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) stakeholders being introduced include International Pakistani Travelers, 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 pursuant to Federal Government's notification dated January 3, 2019 about implementation of DIRBS, has been extended up to January 15, 2019

As per details all mobile devices which are already activated on cellular Mobile Networks within Pakistan by January, 15 2019 shall remain operational without services disruption.

Even non-compliant devices in operation prior to this date will be tied to those numbers and will remain operational till useful life of the device.

The Mobile Devices which are not activated by January, 15 shall be provided an option to get such devices regularized on payment of leviable duty/taxes along with payment of equivalent to ten (10) percent of amount of duty /taxes involved thereon on furnishing of Certificate of Compliances (CoC) issued by PTA.

Secretary IT informed the meeting that new mechanism was being introduced to facilitate pensioners of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL).

Later, the Committee recommended that the date January 15 regarding implementation of DIRBS may be further extended.

Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2019

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