After its failure to curtail the smuggling of mobile phones, the government has decided to withdraw the baggage rule exemption, a facility for international travelers by which they can register their phones on their passports per year with no tax.
The decision has been made not only for the additional revenue, but mostly to avoid the misuse of the baggage exemption rule. Now, international travelers will have to pay tax even on their single mobile phones.
According to details, the baggage exemption was being used to legalise smuggled mobile phones through airport system loopholes. The government had very recently started implementing their Device Identification Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) initiative. However, a combination of misuse of data in violation of FBR baggage rule law and the leaking of ID data has resulted in DIRBS not being able to curtail mobile phones being smuggled and legalised.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has also admitted that leaked data from passengers has been used to register mobile devices. According to the PTA, the smugglers have also been in cahoots with travel agents and have managed to access data available at airports.
DIRBS, rather than curtailing smuggling, has simply caused more problems for consumers, with the PTA reporting 760 cases of data theft to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). Despite arrests in this matter, mobile phones are simply being registered in the name of children and other unassuming parties. According to the PTA, 663,622 individuals have registered themselves with DIRBS since February 2019. Of these, a vast majority of 440,821 are registered under the baggage rule and a meager 12,293 were registered under duty paid category.
Meanwhile, the government has also suggested the withdrawal of the exemption of federal excise duty (FED) on internet services and foreign satellite bandwidth service.