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Saddam Hossain Imran

The Report

Govt losing revenue on influx of iPhones

২০১৫ আগস্ট ২৮ ১৮:৫৯:০১
Govt losing revenue on influx of iPhones

In the last one year about 2.50 crore mobile phone handsets were imported in the country. Of them, the number of iPhones was only 500, though the number of such sets in the country is many times more than that. The business circle has raised a question as to how and where so many iPhones come from.

Thereport24.com investigation has found out that the reason for the mismatch between the two figures on iPhones is the smuggling in these sets. In collusion with some customs officials the iPhones are being brought in through luggage and the number of them is many times those brought in through the official channel. The government is losing a large amount of revenue because of this.

According to the Dhaka Customs House, in the fiscal year 2014-15 a total of 2 crore 59 lakh 95 thousand mobile handsets were imported. Only five thousand and five hundred of them were iPhones.

Mobile set importers cast their doubts on authenticity of the figure on iPhones given by the customs authority. According to them, there is the demand for 2.5 lakh iPhones locally. It will be clear if one goes around the mobile phone markets.

On March 18 last the customs authority at the airport seized a consignment of mobile phone sets brought in through false declaration. Though the importers declared them as computer accessories, they brought in 65 mobile phone sets of different brands including the Samsung, HTC and the Apple’s iPhones and about one lakh 2-16GB memory cards. These mobile sets were brought in through the international courier service provider DHL.

In the fiscal year 2013-14 a total of 2 crore 23 lakh mobile phone sets were imported. They were worth Tk 3,652 crore and 29 lakh.

The stats suggest the demand for mobile handsets is increasing gradually in the country. Keeping pace with that the influx of mobile sets brought in through illegal channels is also increasing. Of them, the number of iPhones is high as the demand for such sets is high in the local market and the prices are also high compared to other common sets. On the other hand, even if the iPhones are brought in through the legal channel, there is a lot of under-invoicing.

Most of these iPhones are cloned or reconditioned. These sets are being brought in through luggage in collusion with some customs officials. Though such consignments are seized on many occasions by the Dhaka Customs House, the importers involved in the illegal practices are going scot-free.

The customs intelligence and investigation department seized over four hundred illegal handsets worth about Tk 1.5 crore by raiding the Gadget and Gear showroom on the Road No. 11 at Banani and that on the Gulshan Avenue on August 28 last year. They included brands like Samsung, Nokia, Sony Experia and HTC. Most of them were cloned and reconditioned handsets. The organization was fined Tk 19 lakh in the form of customs duty for selling the sets without permission of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) and for import of the sets illegally.

On the other hand, the clients were getting cheated by buying the reconditioned sets, as they have no much idea about iPhone sets. Usually iPhones are assembled after collecting their motherboards, casings and displays and traders are bringing in these from China through luggage. Later these are supplied to the big markets in the country.

As there is no distributor of Apple in the country, if there is any trouble after purchase of such sets no after-sale service is available. The sellers only try to repair the sets by their own technicians.

The situation has come to such a pass that the mobile experts often fail to recognize original iPhones. Recently the father of a top mobile phone importer of the country sent his iPhone set for repair to China. He was informed that the set was earlier opened for repair.

There are four organisations in the country reselling iPhones. They are iCentre, Aloha iShop, Computer Source Ltd and Executive Machine Ltd. Besides, the mobile phone service operator companies also sell iPhones.

A mobile phone trader at the city’s Bashundhara City shopping complex told thereport24.com seeking anonymity that the iPhone 4, 4S, 5, 5-S models were being reconditioned most. The importers were supplying such sets through their agents subject to orders from the traders and the orders were being collected by going from shop to shop. These sets are available at Tk 25-30,000. These sets carry one-year service warranty and that is not from any service centre, it is from the shop that sells it.

About this, Customs Intelligence and Investigation Department Director General Dr Moyeenul Khan told thereport24.com that they were collecting information about the importers importing mobile phone sets through under-invoicing and false declaration. Very soon a drive would be launched against them.

Ends/thereport24.com/AR/Aug 28, 2015