Starting April next year, all unregistered smartphones will be denied service by local operators. (Antara Photo/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

By April Next Year, Your Black Market Phone Won't Work in Indonesia

BY :DION BISARA

OCTOBER 18, 2019

Jakarta. The government on Friday issued a regulation requiring all smartphones to be stamped with a unique 15-digit international mobile equipment identity, or IMEI, registered to a government database by April next year, in an attempt to curb illegal smartphone imports.  

Under the regulation, local mobile operators will deny service to all devices not registered with the government database. 

The regulation will come into effect on April 18 next year, Communication and Information Technology Minister Rudiantara said on Friday. 

"I thank the three ministries that have worked together to integrate their rules. All of us are looking to ensure the government does not lose any revenue from cellphone sales," Rudiantara told Antara news agency.

The three ministries are the Communication and Information Technology Ministry, the Industry Ministry and the Trade Ministry. 

Users will still be able to use cellphones that have already been activated before the regulation comes into effect.

The government has set up a website to allow people to check whether their device has a registered IMEI or not. 

Beginning last year, Indonesia has successfully forced manufacturers' hand to start assembling their smartphones in Indonesian factories using locally made components. 

Smartphone giants Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi and Oppo had little choice but to comply with the government's request since all of them want a slice of the huge Indonesian smartphone market, currently estimated to have more than 171 million mobile internet users. 

But, lax border control is allowing illegal – and cheaper – smartphones to continue to flood the country's black market, undermining the manufacturers' investment.

One government estimation says one in five smartphones in Indonesia is illegal. 

While the government currently does not slap import tax on smartphones bought overseas, people buying them still need to pay a value-added tax of 10 percent and a deductible income tax of 7.5 percent according to customs regulation.  

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