Tarana reveals plan to track IMEI; letter sent to Finance Ministry over tax structure
24 April 2016, Nirapad News: State Minister for Post and Telecommunications Tarana Halim on Saturday said her ministry has written to the Finance Ministry to review the tax and VAT structures on mobile handsets and accessories, with a particular view to making smartphones affordable for all and promoting local manufacturers.
“We sent a letter to the Finance Ministry two days ago on the tax and VAT structure for mobile phones that it may consider, before the budget session commences, to promote local manufacturers,” Tarana said, while addressing a roundtable seminar on “Mobile Handset and its Role in Building Digital Bangladesh” at Westin Hotel in the capital.
Telecom Reporters’ Network Bangladesh (TRNB), a platform of journalists working in country’s telecommunication sector, organized the discussion.
Tarana Halim said her ministry will install the International Mobile Equipment Identity, or IMEI, software in the BTRC server for registration of mobile handsets ‘within a month’, after which BTRC can track users through their handsets, bypassing the networks.
Once the IMEI database was up, she said customers could check whether a set was legal or not by tracking its IMEI number on the BTRC website before buying it. She also said the authorities will start the registration of the IMEI numbers once the ongoing biometric SIM registration process is completed.
Tarana expressed her disappointment at BTRC for its inability to take action against retailers who are allegedly taking fees for the registration of the biometric SIM.
BTRC Chairman Dr Shahjahan Mahmood, speaking after the minister, said a committee would be formed with representatives of the Customs department, handset importers and law-enforcing agencies, to stop the import of illegal handsets. He noted the use of smartphones has increased. In 2015, the number of mobile phone users with smartphones increased by 39 percent from a year earlier, while basic handsets’ use decreased by 16 percent. Use of mobile phones overall increased by 13 percent.
Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importer Association (BMPIA) President Ruhul Alam Al Mahbub Manik said most ‘world-class’ brands would invest here within 2-3 years if the government withdrew tax and VAT.
Presided over by TRNB President Rashed Mehdi, the discussion was also addressed by Director General of Custom Intelligence and Investigation Department Dr Moinul Khan, BTRC Director General on Spectrum Management Colonel Nasim Parvez, and TRNB general secretary Shamim Ahmed, among others.