Mobile handset prices spiral ahead of Eid

Sellers and distributors of mobile handsets surpassed prices before Eid by using the excuse that the customs duty on the handsets doubled even though importers did not raise prices to term.

The government increased the import duty on mobile phones to 10 percent as of June 1. After clothes and accessories, gadgets are what sells the most in advance of Eid.

A single provider, Nokia, has officially increased the price of one of its handset models as a result of higher rights.

It raised the price of its re-evaluated model 3310, which was launched in Bangladesh at the end of May, at 4,500 Tk of 4,450 Tk. But in the city of Bashundhara, a major hub for mobile phones, the model sells for over Tk 6,000.

Symphony, the best-selling mobile phone brand, has not increased its prices, said Ashraful Haque, marketing director of its parent company, Edison Group.

"But we have learned that some retailers have increased prices before Eid," he added.

Fair Group, importer of Samsung handsets, also said that it did not increase the price of one of the models even though it paid additional fees, Its president Alam Al Mahbub Manik.

By 2016, the industry has brought about 3.10 mobile handsets crore in the country through the legal channel, up 11% year on year, according to the Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association. Imports of illegal handsets probably exceeded the number. The additional customs duty will only engage undisclosed imports and deprive the government of income, Haque said. This will ultimately help destroy the industry, which is worth more than TK 10,000 crore now, importers said.

This correspondent visited at least three popular mobile centers – Bashundhara City, Motaleb Plaza and Eastern Plaza – and found that opportunistic retailers traveled the prices of handsets, many of which were illegal imports, ahead of Eid. They all used the excuse of the customs walk to raise the price of the handsets – even if they did not pay the duty in the first place.

The stores were selling all popular brands of handsets like Apple, Samsung, HTC, LG, BlackBerry, Sony at a much cheaper price than the official brands stores but without warranty. Md Murad Hossain, owner of Mobile House, a mobile phone dealer in the city of Bashundhara, said that most mobile phones did not have authorization from the telecommunications regulator or customs.

Jamal Uddin, a Symphony licensed dealer in the city of Bashundhara, said that most expensive phones came from an illegal channel because international brands like Apple, HTC or BlackBerry did not have any Distribution network in Bangladesh.

Some merchants, however, reported buying handsets from importers who brought the handsets lawfully.

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