‘Smartphone for All’ launched: Mobile phones in instalments offered

Mehtab Haider
Thursday, Nov 24, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Without directly criticising the Ministry of Finance, Minister for Information Technology & Telecommunication Aminul Haque said Wednesday he stood by the IT and telecom sector for their justified demands and would discuss their issues with the ministry, the State Bank of Pakistan and FBR next week.

“A Google team is going to visit Pakistan next month. TikTok is also returning to our country. We are encouraging all the social media platforms to establish their offices in Pakistan,” Aminul Haque said.

He was speaking at the launching ceremony of ‘Smartphone for All’. The ceremony was organised in collaboration with GSMA and KistPay, a local company, here.

The minister said taxation on the telecom sector was the highest and they were asking the FBR to resolve the outstanding burden of taxation on this sector.

Referring to PTA chairman’s address whereby he highlighted less number of postpaid subscribers of cellular phones, Amin said the cell companies should devise a strategy to promote postpaid connections to ensure revenue streams.

He said they implemented the e-government model, and now cabinet meetings were being held on tablets instead of plethora of files lying on the tables of ministers. He said the parliament proceedings would also be kick-started on tablets from coming June/July 2023. He said teledensity stood at 88 percent in Pakistan, while broadband penetration went up to 124 million people against 90 million when he took over the charge of ministry three years back. He said the number of projects executed by the Universal Service Fund (USF) increased from 6 to 28 with the total investment of Rs64 billion in the last four years. Speaking on the occasion, Chairman PTA Major General (retd) Amir Azeem Bajwa said it was perceived PTA had imposed a tax on the registration of imported phones. “It has nothing to do with PTA as the tax is imposed by the FBR,” he said. It hurt them, he maintained. He said there were very few postpaid customers of cellular mobile operators. So, they should focus on promotion of postpaid customers. For launching of Smartphone for All, mobile phones, valued between Rs10,000 to Rs100,000, can be procured at 3 to 12-month instalments with 20-30 percent down payment.

GSMA Asia Pacific Chief Julian Gorman addressed the event and said smartphone prevalence in Pakistan was far below the Asia Pacific region. “It has to be a key priority, so that low and middle income consumers in Pakistan can participate in the digital economy,” he remarked. He said all stakeholders, including mobile industry, financial institutions, policymakers and regulators, needed to adopt a collaborated approach for enhancing smartphone usage in Pakistan.

To facilitate transition to mobile broadband for an additional 50 million people in the next three years, CCO Jazz Asif Aziz said government should discontinue import and local production of 2G phones, prioritise local assembly of 4G-enabled smartphones, develop and implement a regulatory cover enabling telecom companies to offer smartphones on instalments and reduce withholding tax on essential telecom services from 15pc to 8pc. This would help boost digital adoption and unlock tremendous socio-economic opportunities for the masses, he said.