In a groundbreaking move, the Ministry of IT and Telecom has devised a comprehensive policy draft aimed at providing smartphones to citizens through convenient installment plans. This initiative is set to usher in a new era of accessibility to mobile technology for Pakistan’s population.
According to informed sources, the policy draft entails a significant measure: blocking the mobile phones of users who default on their installment payments. This assertive step is seen as a means of ensuring responsible usage of smartphones acquired through the installment plans.
Collaboration with PTA for Implementation
The Ministry of IT and Telecom, in partnership with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), is actively working on a mechanism to facilitate the blocking of smartphones when necessary. This mechanism is expected to be a critical component of the policy’s execution.
Sources within the Ministry of IT and Telecom have indicated that the smartphone financing policy draft is poised for sharing with key stakeholders, including mobile phone operators and banks, in the coming week. This step marks a pivotal phase in ensuring that the policy is embraced and effectively implemented.
It has come to light that two out of the four major mobile phone companies have expressed opposition to the central system of blocking defaulters’ mobile SIMs as a measure to issue smartphones in installments. During a recent meeting of stakeholders presided over by the caretaker IT minister, the PTA conveyed the need for a policy directive to enable the blocking of mobile phones belonging to users who default on their payments.
The Blockade Approach
Among the stakeholders, there are varying opinions on the level of blocking to be implemented. While some suggest the blocking of mobile phones, SIM cards, and identity cards of defaulters under this policy, officials from the Ministry of IT have asserted that mobile phones should be the primary target for blocking. If a mobile network operator deems it necessary, they can also proceed to block the SIM cards associated with defaulters. The inclusion of ID card blocking as a measure will be deliberated for possible inclusion in the policy at a later stage.
Exploring Further Measures
In a bid to strengthen the policy, considerations have been made for the blocking of Google services, alongside the blocking of mobile phones belonging to defaulters. Officials from the IT Ministry have highlighted the examples set by GSMA and Kist Pay in launching smartphones. In a strategic partnership, the two entities are joining forces to introduce Shariah-compliant installment plans tailored to cater to the financial needs of lower and middle-income customers. This initiative represents a significant step towards making financial services more accessible and compliant with Islamic principles for a broader segment of the population.
The Ministry of IT and Telecom’s policy draft represents a significant stride toward making smartphones more accessible to citizens, while simultaneously addressing issues of non-payment through effective blocking measures. Collaborative efforts between the Ministry, the PTA, and stakeholders will be instrumental in ensuring the successful implementation of this forward-looking policy.