The government is losing around Taka 700 crore duties every year due to illegal import, mainly through luggage, of unauthorized mobile phone sets.
“The government has been losing huge amount of duties due to the sale of unauthorized mobile sets in the country. As per the rules of the government, everyone has to pay around 25 percent duties while importing mobile handsets,” Moinul Khan, director general of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID), told BSS.
He said the CIID has started conducting drives to seize unauthorized mobile handsets from the market to give a message to mobile store owners that the government would not allow selling any illegally imported mobile phone sets in Bangladesh market.
“The drive will be intensified in the coming days, if the mobile phone traders do not refrain from selling unauthorized mobile phone sets,” he added.
Recently, the director general informed, CIID seized more than 200 illegal mobile phone sets, including iPhones, by conducting drives at Bashundhara Shopping Complex in Panthapath and Molly Capita Centre at Gulshan in the city.
The sized phone sets entered the country in luggage dodging the officials, he added.
Talking to BSS, Mohammad Mesbah Uddin, joint secretary of the Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association (BMPIA), said as per their market analysis, the government lost over Taka 700 crore duties in 2017 as a huge number of mobile sets worth about Taka 3,000 crore have entered the Bangladesh market though illegal ways.
Around 40 to 45 percent Samsung mobile handsets are entering the market illegally while over 80 percent iPhones are imported in the unauthorized way, mostly in personal baggage, he added.
He informed that after launching of iPhone 7 in 2016, nearly 100,000 sets entered the local market through gray channels like baggage and other unofficial ways.
“Not only duties, the consumers are also being cheated in buying unauthorized iPhone sets as the illegally imported sets don’t have any warranty,” he added.
Some traders even used to sell refurbished or fake sets presenting those as original ones, he said.
Raquibul Kabir, chairman of Compustar PVT Limited (CPL), the only authorized dealer of iPhone in Bangladesh, urged the mobile phone users to buy the iPhone handsets from authorized dealers as many unauthorized mobile phone set traders used to sell fake or refurbished iPhone sets.
“We don’t want to see people buying fake or refurbished iPhone at the prices of new ones,” he said adding “As you will spend a good amount of money for the high-end handsets, make sure that you are buying the a new phone, not a refurbished one.”
He requested all to visit www.Compustarltd.com to verify the authenticity of the phone before buying any iPhone handset.
According to BMPIA, mobile handset import through legal channels for the first time crossed 3 crore pieces in 2016, 11 percent up from 2015 with the total value of the imports coming to about Taka 8,000 crore. Smartphone imports accounted for Taka 6,500 crore.
Smartphone import, however, increased by 46 percent in 2016 to 82 lakh pieces from 56.27 lakh pieces in the previous year.
The expensive mobile sets come through unofficial channels mainly due to lack of IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) database, complex customs system and high import duty. In some cases, the traders make fake IMEI to escape customs checking.