KARACHI: Plunging diesel sales and imports coupled with declining trend in truck sales stands in contrast with the very usual amount of import/export activity that has taken place during the first five months of this fiscal year.
Truck and diesel sales, considered barometer of trade and economic activity, remained highly depressed between July-November, which is contrary to marginal decline in the country’s overall import of finished goods and raw materials by 0.78 per cent to 23.6 billion in this period from 23.8bn.
Exports of various goods grew by 1.29pc to $9.12bn from $9bn in 5MFY19, while the country’s trade deficit in the last five months stood over $14bn.
Large scale manufacturing (LSM) grew by 4pc in July-September versus same period last fiscal year.
Total diesel imports in July-November fell to 1.591m tonnes from 1.723m tonnes in same period last fiscal year.
The average import of diesel per month has fallen to 231,917 tonnes in the last five months from 344,656 tonnes in the same period last fiscal year. In FY18, the country’s total diesel imports stood at 3.848m tonnes, in which FOTCO imported bulk diesel cargo of 3.532m tones, followed by little quantities of 315,193 tonnes at Keamari. However, diesel imports at Keamari terminal had shown no arrivals between April and November.
The overall diesel sales locally also fell by 21pc to 3.146m tonnes in 5MFY19.
For example, sales of Pakistan State Oil (PSO) plunged by 31pc to 1.217m tonnes, while sales of Shell came down to 13pc to 222,000 tonnes, followed by 23pc of Hascol to 433,000 tonnes and Attock Petroleum by 9pc to 328,000 in 5MFY19.
Deputy General Manager Corporate Communications PSO, Imran Rana, said actually the whole industry’s diesel sales have dropped by 20pc on an average between July-November, due to availability of smuggled diesel, as well as general decline in transport activity.
He said that some oil marketing companies are offering irrational discounts on diesel and motor gasoline which are beyond the industry’s margins, by misusing Inland Freight Equalisation Margin (IFEM) system as well as other ethical practices. Oil industry experts said that depressed truck sales coupled with arrival of Iranian diesel have caused a substantial drop in demand of locally produced diesel.
Iranian diesel is finding way into Pakistan through informal channels after US sanctions on Iran, they said.
According to figures of Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association (PAMA), sales of trucks (Hinopak, Master and Isuzu) plunged to 2,924 units in 5MFY19 from 3,574 units in the same period last fiscal year.
Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2018