UZIMEI: Gray phone smuggling reached 87% of total imported products.
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) - State Unitary Enterprise "Republican Center for Management of Telecommunications Networks of Uzbekistan" - Operator of the UZIMEI mobile device registration system, sums up the work in 2020 and informs about the changes made to the procedure for registering mobile devices in accordance with the Cabinet Resolution Ministers of 31 December 2020 No.-828.
The development of mobile communications in the country, expanding access to interactive government services and e-commerce through the introduction of modern services, as well as supporting the widespread production of mobile phones and mobile modules in accordance with international standards is a matter of public policy.
In this regard, the Government has determined systemic measures to ensure consumer access to high-quality mobile devices, to take appropriate measures against the spread of counterfeit products in the domestic market and to create a healthy competitive environment in the telecommunications market.
Currently, there is a new stage in the development of the use of telecommunication services in our country in accordance with modern requirements and foreign experience.
Until November 2019, most smartphones and other types of mobile devices were imported into the country unofficially, bypassing established procedures. In other words, business in this area was considered one of the areas of the shadow economy. About 87 percent of mobile devices were smuggled into the republic. Considering that the population of the Republic is more than 33 million people and the majority use mobile devices, it is easy to imagine what amounts were in the shadow circulation.
At the time, mobile phone companies regularly reported their subscriber growth, but no one asked what phones these subscribers were using. Although at that time only 50-60 thousand telephones were officially imported into the territory of the republic.
Commenting on the event, acting Ulugbek Shakirov, Director of the State Unitary Enterprise RTSUSTUz, noted: “The development of mobile communications, expanding access to interactive government services and e-commerce through the introduction of modern services, as well as supporting the widespread production of cell phones and mobile modules in accordance with international standards are an important aspect of government policy. It is worth remembering that until November 2019, the smuggling of mobile devices flourished in Uzbekistan, reaching 87% of the total volume of imported products.
Yes, cellular companies annually reported millions of new subscribers, but at the same time, 50-60 thousand phones officially crossed the border of the republic. And the saddest thing is that this situation did not surprise anyone, rarely finding itself in the focus of attention of the media and the expert community. Accordingly, few people cared about the quality, technical guarantee and safety of devices used by the population. But attention to these issues is the imperative of the times, which became one of the main prerequisites for the creation of the UZIMEI system”.
Only with the introduction of the UZIMEI system did the scale of the problem become clear, when, instead of less than 100,000 devices imported into Uzbekistan in 2019, more than 1,000,000 devices were already declared in the 3 quarters of 2020. The final statistics of the year have yet to be tweaked, but a situation is quite expected in which it will become clear that over the past 12 months more smartphones have officially entered the country than in all previous years combined. "
The results of the implementation of the system are quite tangible: in the 3 quarters of 2020 alone, more than 1,000,000 mobile devices imported into Uzbekistan were declared. This statistics is based both on the data of the State Unitary Enterprise “RTSUSTUz” and on the relevant statements of the State Customs Committee and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, cooperation with which, as well as partnership with official importers, reached a fundamentally new level with the introduction of the UZIMEI system.
Departure from the "gray" import schemes, ensured by the functioning of the UZIMEI system, as noted at the press briefing of the State Unitary Enterprise "RCUSTUz", also contributed to the growth of the investment attractiveness of the sector, today negotiations are underway with the world’s largest smartphone manufacturers to open their representative offices in the republic.
“Nevertheless, we do not intend to be satisfied with what has already been achieved, and we are well aware that, like any innovative solutions, the UZIMEI system must be continuously improved in the interests of users,” emphasizes the head of the State Unitary Enterprise “RTSUSTUz”. - The resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of 31 December 2020 is aimed precisely at simplifying procedures for ordinary citizens and non-residents of the republic. In accordance with it, all responsibilities for registering IMEI codes, regardless of the date of import of mobile devices into the country, are assigned to importers and manufacturers. In addition, the government document supplements the Regulation on the procedure for registering mobile devices with a description of the rights and obligations of diplomatic missions, foreign citizens, as well as state executors.”
The draft resolution was agreed with the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the State Customs Committee, the Antimonopoly Committee, the Bureau of Compulsory Enforcement under the General Prosecutor’s Office, as well as a number of other departments.
It is important to note that in accordance with clause 43 of the provision, payment for the registration of IMEI codes of mobile devices goes to a special account of the system operator for further referral to the Information and Communication Technologies Development Fund for targeted financing of telecommunications infrastructure, including projects for the development of rural and remote areas, tourism and recreational areas, as well as projects for the introduction of ICT in government agencies.
The system for registering IMEI codes of mobile devices was introduced in Uzbekistan in accordance with the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan from 22 October 2018 No. 847 “On measures to streamline the accounting system for mobile devices in the Republic of Uzbekistan.” According to this document, the State Unitary Enterprise “Republican Center for Telecommunication Networks Management of Uzbekistan” was designated as the system operator.