ISLAMABAD: The country’s oil import bill rose 6.7 per cent year-on-year to $9.61 billion during 8MFY19, according to data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).
The share of oil accounted for 26.3 per cent of the total import bill during July-Feb FY19, compared to 23pc during the same period last year. It shows that despite the decrease of over 6pc year-on-year in the total import bill, coming at $36.63bn during the period, oil bill continued to rise over the last year.
The government has already reached an understanding with Saudi Arabia for a three-year deferred oil facility worth $3bn. A similar facility was initially planned UAE, but later came to a standstill.
The decrease in import bill led to a decline of 11.03pc in trade deficit year-on-year to $21.5bn during July-February this fiscal year.
Growth in the bill of petroleum group was driven mainly by surge in liquefied natural gas at 57.84pc, crude oil 21.1pc while petroleum products were down 14.27pc and petroleum gas 12.63pc in terms of value.
In February, the overall import bill was posted at $4.179bn, lower by 12.28pc, from $4.764bn in same period last year. On a monthly basis, the decrease in total import value stood down by 7.2pc from $4.503bn in January.
Barring petroleum and agriculture groups, imports from all other categories contracted during the eight-month period.
Machinery imports dipped 20.55pc to $6bn, from $7.5bn last year with the decline led by shrinking imports power-generating machinery at 50.9pc, textile machinery 11.52pc, construction and mining 22.21pc, electrical 18.06pc and telecom 9.91pc.
Transport group, another major contributor to the trade deficit, also receded during 8MFY19 as it dipped 30.09pc on back of decrease in all sub-categories.
Similarly, food imports — the second-largest component contributing to the total import tally — shrank 8.25pc year-on-year to $3.68bn in 8MF19, from $4.217bn in same period last year. The decrease was driven by an 8.2pc fall in palm oil while other smaller sub-heads declined as well.
The value of textile imports clocked in at $1.92bn during July-February FY19, down 10.89pc, from $2.15bnin same period last year. Raw cotton was the primary contributor to the fall, as its imports plunged 28.22pc while those of synthetic and artificial silk edged lower by 3.22pc.
Metal group posted a minor decline of 2.42pc to $3.37bn during the eight months, from $3.46bn in corresponding period last year. It was driven by fall in iron and steel and iron and steel scrap by 5.18pc and 3.47pc, respectively.
Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2019