The ‘Baggage’ Rule: Senate Recommends Duty-Free Import of Mobile Phone

Senators also opposed the government's decision of imposing a duty on imports of even a single handset.

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Chairman FBR (Federal Board of Revenue) Shabbar Zaidi, has recommended to allow duty-free import of mobile phones under the new ‘baggage’ rule. The new recommendation will be tabled before the federal cabinet.

While briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication, Chairman FBR said that in the past, the baggage rule was being misused, which compelled the government to withdraw the facility.

The parliamentary panel, which met with Rubina Khalid in the chair, dismissed FBR’s suggestion to withdraw the facility. The panel stated that rather than improving the check and balance mechanism and improving the loopholes in the structure, the board decided to take away the facility altogether. The decision has impacted overseas Pakistanis and has adversely affected every segment of the society, including students and other individuals.

The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) also raised its concerns with FBR, saying that it is impacting the IT growth negatively in the country, as well as, adversely affecting the government’s digital agenda.

Other senators also opposed the government’s decision of imposing a duty on imports of even a single handset. The committee recommended suspending FBR’s decision and allow duty-free import of mobile phones.

The committee maintained that people belonging to the upper class can afford to buy mobile phones at any price tag, hence the rule is only milking the middle and lower class. The government further desired that there should be a uniform application of duty and taxes on mobile phones brought into Pakistan by passengers or locally procured.

Senators Shahzad Wasim and Faisal Javed said that mobile phones are not only for phone calls, but they’re also used in business activities.

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