Who will really pay for the Ministry of Telecommunications’ decision to prevent smuggling mobiles?

The Ministry of Telecommunications. (Image via imlebanon.org)

Since 2012, Lebanon’s Ministry of Telecommunications has been trying, despite changes in leadership, to combat the smuggling of smartphones. The latest decision was announced on August 31 by caretaker minister Jamal al-Jarrah.

A few points to gather from the directive:

  1. Citizens are responsible for ensuring that their International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) complies with the Global System of Mobile communications (GSM). This can be done through the Ministry of Telecommunications’ website.

  2. Citizens can use their smartphone purchased from outside Lebanon for a period not exceeding 90 consecutive or intermittent days on in Lebanon at any point during the same year. They must pay additional fees to be able to use it, according to an agreement between the Ministries of Telecommunications and Finance. If the phone carries a non-Lebanese SIM card, then its owner can use it in Lebanon without requiring paying customs fees.
  3. The directive came into effect on September 3, 2018.

Unfortunately, citizens and mobile users are paying the heftier price of these decisions, prompting us to ask a few questions to the Lebanese state and the Ministry of Telecommunications:

  • Why should we incur additional burdens when buying legitimate smartphones from outside Lebanon?

  • Why not take the fight against smuggling to its source and arrest and punish those responsible for the smuggling?
  • Why does the Ministry of Telecommunications not establish better standards for protecting user data when accessing its website?

A detailed document on the directive from the Telecom Ministry’s website:

للقراءة باللغة العربية.

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