Telecom imports fall by 26% in July-Jan FY14

* Hike in duties hampering imports ahead of 3G, dealers says
Telecom imports fall by 26% in July-Jan FY14

KARACHI: Ahead of next generation technologies auction, legal mobile phone import is showing continuous decline in this fiscal year that can affect anticipated 3G/4G penetration in Pakistan, experts said.
In addition, robust dollar value against the rupee remained the major suppressor for the telecom sector’s imports as the import of this sector declined by 25.88 percent to $715.50 million in July to January of current fiscal year 2013-14 (FY14) as compared to $965.27 million in the same period of FY13.
Upcoming endeavours announced by the government to earn huge revenues through the auction coupled with contemporary technologies arrival in the country only could possible if the compatible devises are offered widely.
Experts were of the view additional duties on import of mobile phone handsets causing increase in illegal mobile phone import, which would not be in good omen for the telecom industry in the offing.
According to the latest figures released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), however the mobile handsets import alone, increased by 8.12 percent to $374.73 million in the first seven months of FY14 as against the import value of $346.58 million in the corresponding period of last fiscal.
Karachi Electronics and Small Traders Association President Muhammad Rizwan said the government was continuously enforcing undue duties on mobile phone imports resulting in massive decline in legal imports while huge increase in illegal imports with the help of unsavory custom officials.
He said already suffering business circumstances in Pakistan could not bear more pressure in terms of high duties on the import of the telecom.
He said following the budget 2013-14, the dollar’s value increased by almost 10 percent, due to which importers of the sector were compelled to reduce their import orders, as they had to make payments in dollar.
The major factor in this dwindling import figures were according to PBS huge drop in import of telecom group’s other mobile accessories and apparatus that contracted by 44.92 percent in the first seven months of FY14 to $340.76 million as against $618.69 million in the same period of last fiscal year.
Meanwhile, on yearly basis, telecom group imports including mobile phones and other apparatus decreased by 3.38 percent in January 2014 to $106.61 million as against $110.35 in same month of 2013.
Interestingly, mobile phones’ import during January 2014 increased massively by 5958.73 percent in the first seven months of current fiscal year to $59.31 million as against $9.79 million in the corresponding month of last fiscal mainly due to increasing demand on expectations of 3G technology.
On the other hand, import of other accessories and mobile phone apparatus also decreased by 56.75 percent to $47.30 million in January 2014 when compared to the value of $109.37 million in the same month of last fiscal, PBS revealed.
In December 2013 Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) imposed ban on the import of mobile sets without International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI), as per new regulations all mobile set imports have to be cleared and verified by PTA and imported has to get a type approval and IMEI number submission and approval from PTA before import.
Because of it, online individual shopping of Chinese android mobile has also been hindering as customs or post office officials do now have an official/legal reasons to withhold any such online ordered mobile.

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