ISLAMABAD : The import of telecom equipment and telephone/cellular handsets has witnessed a slight decline during 2012-13, reaching US$ 918.4 million from US$ 954.05 million during previous year. During the period, the import of mobile handsets increased to US $467.1 million from US $465.3 million at the end of previous fiscal year.The rise in the demand for smart phones in the country has substantially increased the overall import bill of handsets, a data of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) revealed on Thursday.The government, earlier this year, imposed duty of Rs. 1,000 per handset on import of smart phones which might not be helpful in reducing the demand for handsets.

However, it might encourage smuggling and sub-standard Chinese handsets in the market.

   In order to curtail the burden on import bill, there is a need to encourage private sector and multinationals for local manufacturing and assembly of handsets and telecom equipment.