ISLAMABAD     -    The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has generated Rs7 billion in last eight months by registering imported cell phones under Devices Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS). The FBR had so far blocked 6,75,000 mobile phones under DIRBS. Under the DIRBS, the FBR had made a change in the personal baggage rules, as overseas Pakistanis will now have to pay tax on every mobile phone they bring to the country.

Overseas Pakistani could use the local SIM in their mobile for 60 days. They would have to register their cell phone with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) after paying due taxes and duties to FBR after 60 days otherwise the cell phones would be blocked.

The FBR officials gave this briefing to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue, which met under the chairmanship of Senator Farooq H Naik.  The officials informed the committee that government had introduced the DIRBS to control the smuggling of imported cell phones in the country. They informed that people had brought around eight to ten cell phones in their briefcase to Pakistan from other countries before the DIRBS. The committee was informed that government is charging lesser taxes on mobile phones from the common people in the country.

The FBR asserted that DIRBS will discourage smuggling, since no matter how the device is procured the user would be taxed once a sim is inserted. Foreigners will be exempted for 60 days after which they will have to pay tax.

The Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue has also passed the Companies Act, 2019 unanimously with amendment with consent of member in-charge.  Other Bills that included the Maternity and Paternity Bill, 2018, the Constitution Amendment Act, 2019, were deferred due to absence of the movers.

Starred question asked by Senator Mir Kabir Muhammad Ahmed Shahi regarding number of employees from Balochistan in the Ministry of Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs was deferred due to the absence of Advisor Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs. The Committee directed the Ministry that the Advisor must be present in the next meeting to answer queries, since being a policy issue he is the best person that can respond.

The consideration of Public Petition submitted by one Mr. Muhammad Irfan addressed to Chairman Senate regarding simplification of the procedure of filing tax returns was deferred.  The Committee was briefed regarding the Tax Asan Application. It was recommended that the decision on the issue would be taken up in the next meeting and the Committee decision will be communicated to the petitioner.

Discussing the issue of smuggling of LED TVs referred by the Chairman Senate the matter was deferred due to absence of FBR Chairman.  While taking up the matter of closure of regular container liner KGS service it was decided that the Committee was satisfied with the response provided by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs that the service is in place.

The meeting was attended by Senator Dr. Ghous Muhammad Khan Niazi, Senator Syed Shibli Faraz, Senator Dilawar Khan, Senator Anwar Ul Haq Kakar, Senator Mir Kabir Muhammad Ahmed Shahi and senior officers from the Ministry for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Ministry of Maritime Affairs, FBR along with all other concerned officers.