It is heartening to note that the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has taken a praiseworthy move to disconnect all mobile phone handsets brought into the country illegally. It will do so by adopting a new technology. For the purpose, it will launch the National Equipment Identity Register (NEIR) on July 1, this year.
Presently, there is no official data on how many illegal devices are being used around the country, but sources close to the Bangladesh Mobile Phone Business Association have roughly put the number at 30 million. And, the number is increasing gradually at an alarming rate. As per the BTRC officials, about 30 percent of the 10 crore mobile handsets currently in use in the country have been imported illegally. The government fetches Tk 3,000 against each device in the form of import duties from a legal importer. But, it loses the revenue when a mobile handset is sold or purchased in an illegal manner. Because of the illegal handset market, the authorities concerned are reportedly losing around Tk4,000 crore annually in this sector.However, after commencement of the NEIR services, illegal import of mobile phone sets will be prevented to a great extent as has been expected by the BTRC. Alongside, the loss of revenue will be recovered and theft and health risks will be reduced ensuring safety. It is also hoped that the threat of cyber-crime would also be reduced across the country. The launch of the NEIR will also help the genuine phone business to grow. The NEIR system will offer the international mobile equipment identity (IMEI) number verification, document ID tagging from the central biometric verification and monitoring platform (CBVMP) system and easy de-registration facilities.
Buyers should be wary of buying phones which were imported through unofficial channels without paying tax. They must check the legality of the phone sets through the IMEI before their purchase. While purchasing mobile sets from abroad, people should preserve the purchase receipt and related documents with them for their registration in the home country afterwards.