In a move that has kept the expats as well as Pakistanis, who frequently travel abroad on their toes, the government has started charging a significantly high duty on smartphones being brought to Pakistan.
It is applicable to everyone from commercial importers to passengers travelling to Pakistan. All expats coming to Pakistan for New Year’s celebration or a Pakistani returning from an official trip abroad will have to pay the duty if they are carrying additional smartphones.
If you are only carrying one mobile phone, then you won’t have to pay the duty. However, if you are carrying more then you will have to pay the tax on them. You will also not be allowed to carry more than five mobile phones in a year.
The duty structure is complex, but don’t worry as SAMAA Digital has done the math for you. If you are carrying an extra mobile phone worth Rs40,000, you will have to pay another Rs16,100 or 40% in different duties and taxes, which will take its overall cost to Rs56,100. The duty for every set varies depending upon its price. The following table can be helpful in finding out how much you will pay for the mobile phone:
According to officials familiar with the matter, the duties apply to both new (packed) and used (unpacked) phones with an IMEI and SIM function. However, presently the government is facilitating used phones and only new (packed) phones – in case of a second phone – is being levied with the new Customs duty. The government has already approved duties for the used phones and the law is being made in this regard.
Critics say such high duties on imports of mobiles will hurt both the traders, as well as consumers. Higher duties will make devices more expensive and out of reach for the marginalised segment and deprive them of all the benefits the internet has to offer. It will slow down internet penetration and growth of an internet-based economy, they say.
However, the government says it has to take this step to stop the smuggling of mobile phones, which cost the exchequer millions in tax evasion.
The old tax structure is very complex and the government is working on simplifying it, a customs official said requesting anonymity. The objective is to stop smuggling first since up to 40% of our imports are smuggled products, he said. “Once, we have done away with it and simplified the tax structure, the government will certainly consider reducing taxes, especially on low-end phones.”