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|Subject : Exemption of Obtaining No Objection Certificate (NOC) or Type Approval Certificate from PTA on Import of Networking Equipment
Two years back in 2003, Director (Standards) PTA issued a letter to Chief Customs (Tariff), CBR in which PTA, under the guise of Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-Organization) Act, 1996, has instructed the customs authorities not to release the Terminal Equipment including the IP devices such as Routers, Remote Access Servers, Switches, Bandwidth Controllers, Firewalls, IP Telephony Gateways, etc., without Type Approval or NOC from PTA. On the basis of this letter, the Pakistani IT industry has been continuously suffering by the hands of customs authorities as they always ask the importer to get an NOC or Type Approval Certificate from PTA for release of the equipment from customs. According to the Clause 28 of Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-Organization) Act, 1996, the Authority shall not restrict the type of telecommunication equipment that may be used for the establishment, maintenance or operation of telecommunication systems or the provision of telecommunication services. The Act also states that Terminal Equipment to be connected to PSTN (public switched telephone network) should be approved by the PTA as Section 29(3) states that 'no person may install any telecommunication equipment as part of, or connect terminal equipment (other than by a plug-into-socket connection) to any public switched network except in accordance with regulations made by the Authority. On the basis of this, ISPAK submitted a petition to PTA stating that this equipment was categorized as CO (central office) equipment and normally installed in network operation centers. The Section 29(3) of the Act also clearly exempts the plug-into-socket connection type devices from Type Approval and such devices include all type of phone sets and even modern fax machines. ISPAK informed PTA that this letter of PTA, besides violating the Section 16 (2) of Pakistan Customs Act, 1996 and Import Trade Order and Procedures Order 2001-2002, has added the insult to the injuries of Pakistani IT industry which already faces a lot of difficulties and delays by the hands of customs officials in import of hardware and software. Many leading Call Centers in recent past have faced similar problems in import of the IP Telephony equipment. The Pakistan Customs Act, 1969 neither prohibits the import of telecom equipment into country nor provides infringement cover to Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-Organisation) Act, 1996. The Imports & Exports Act, 1950 and its subsequent revisions from time to time also do not give any powers to PTA to restrict the import of the telecom equipment into Pakistan. ISPAK further informed that PTA also did not have any statutory powers to ask CBR to restrict the import of legitimate equipment that has not been restricted by the Competent Authority, i.e., Ministry of Commerce, as defined in the Import Trade Order and Procedures Orders issued by the Government of Pakistan every year. Upon ISPAK request, Chairman PTA issued instructions to immediately withdraw the aforesaid letter resulting in hassle free import of IT equipment.