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Ban suggested on used computer import

March 07, 2010

ISLAMABAD, March 6 The ministry of information technology has been asked to draft a proposal for a ban on the import of used computers and IT accessories.

Ministry officials told Dawn on Saturday that the secretary of the IT ministry had received a letter from President Asif Ali Zardari asking him to highlight factors that necessitated the action named above.

The ministry has sought feedback from stakeholders on pros and cons of the proposed ban.

The move will benefit multinational companies dealing in new computers and increase their profits, take computers out of the range of poor students and affect livelihood of thousands of vendors dealing in used computers.

At present there is no indigenous manufacture of computers and IT equipment. All computers, used and new, are being imported.

Intel, the world's largest manufacturer of branded computers and IT accessories, is the main supplier in Pakistan. Although Intel has many marketing outlets in Pakistan, it has not set up a manufacturing plant in the country. It has one in India.

The officials said international companies manufacturing computer hardware had been pressing the government to impose a ban on import of used computers and IT equipment, obviously to control the local market.

Pakistan Computers Association president Munawar Mughal opposed the move and termed it “unjust and based on malevolence”. He said his association would resist the ban at every level.

He said Pakistan was a third world country where 80 per cent consumers buy second-hand computers.

“Multinational companies are trying to get a ban imposed on import of second-hand computers to capture the market, but the government should realise that a large number of poor people cannot afford to buy a new computer costing between Rs25,000 and Rs45,000,” Mr Mughal said, adding that the price of a used desktop PC ranged between Rs5,000 and Rs10,000.

The ban would deprive poor students of their right to modern education and the country would lose millions of dollars in foreign exchange if the proposal was approved, Mr Mughal said.