Biometric verification to be made mandatory for duty-free import of mobile phones

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The government is mulling to allow international passengers duty-free import of mobile phones under Baggage Rules and various proposals are under consideration to avoid misuse of the facility, a local newspaper reported. 

It has been learnt that such a facility will be subjected to a strict system of checks like biometric verification to discourage the previous practice of misuse of the facility.  

The various proposals after implementing stricct system for restoring the facility for international passengers would be presented before the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet. After failure to curtail the smuggling of mobile phones, the government had withdrawn the baggage rule exemption, a facility for international travelers by which they can register their phones on their passports per year with no tax.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 mafia had used the baggage exemption rule to legalise smuggled mobile phones through airport system loopholes. The government had started implementing their Device Identification Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) initiative. 

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.

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