Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunications Chairperson Senator Rubina Khalid has said that the 30-day margin for registering a new mobile bought from abroad was less and must be extended to 60 days.

She said this while chairing the meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunications in Islamabad on Wednesday.

Senator Fida Muhammad, Senator Muhammad Tahir Bizenjo, Senator Ghous Muhammad Khan Niazi, Senator Engineer Rukhsana Zuberi, Senator Sana Jamali, Senator Taj Muhammad Afridi, Senator Molana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh, Senator Faisal Javed and senior officers from the Ministry of IT (MOIT), Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) were also present on this occasion.

Rubina Khalid suggested making the Device Identification Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) programme workable so that both the government and the people of Pakistan benefit from it. It was imperative that duties be rationalised, she added.

On this occasion, the Ministry of IT, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and the member of Pakistan Customs briefed the meeting about streamlining the process for collection of customs duty on cell phones on arrival at airports and extension of time period to block unregistered IMEI cell phones.

The committee showed displeasure over the lack of awareness of the PTA regarding this issue.

Senator Faisal Javed said that imposing high taxes on mobiles being brought in Pakistan from abroad was pointless unless Pakistan established its own local industry.

Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh recommended that to protect the common man from being fleeced, it was imperative that mobiles being brought for commercial use be segregated from those being brought for personal utility.

Senator Fida Muhammad probed the panel regarding revenue generated by this measure.  The Committee was informed that since 40% mobiles enter the country through grey channels, this measure will generate huge revenue for the country. The Committee was also informed that taxes would be charged in three slabs (less than $60, more than $60 and $130 and more).

Objecting to the measure Senator Taj Muhammad Afridi said that international duty structure must be followed. He recommended that the finance minister be present in the next meeting.

The meeting deliberated over the matter of increase in pensions to PTCL pensioners by Pakistan Telecommunications Employees Trust.

The chairperson of the committee showed dismay over delay in payments and said that the country was indebted to these people for dedicating their lives to the service of the people of Pakistan. She said that it was a shame that at this critical stage in their lives when it was time for them to rest, they were forced to incessantly pursue what was rightfully theirs.