ISLAMABAD: The country’s oil import bill widened by over 97 per cent to $4.59 billion in the first quarter of current fiscal year (3MFY22) from $2.32bn over the corresponding months of last year owing to rising price in the international market and depreciation of the rupee.
The continuing increase in import bill of oil is triggering trade deficit and may cause uneasiness on the external side for the government. The unprecedented increase in prices of petroleum products for domestic users was seen in the first quarter of the current fiscal year.
Data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics showed that the import of petroleum products went up by 93.21pc in value and 10.86pc in quantity.
Crude oil imports rose by 81.15pc in value and dipped 2.35pc in quantity during the months under review while those of liquefied natural gas increased by 144.02pc in value. Liquefied petroleum gas imports jumped by 53.95pc in value in July-Sept FY22.
Food import figures climb up 66.11pc; country set to import 0.6m tonnes of sugar, 4m tonnes of wheat
The second biggest take of import bill is of food items. The food import bill widened by over 38.03pc to $2.36bn in the first three months of the current fiscal year from $1.71bn over the corresponding months of last year to bridge the gap in food production.
The continuing food import bill and the consequent trade deficit is yet another source of worry for the government. Pakistan spent over $8bn on import of edible items in the last financial year.
The food import bill will go up further in the next few months because the government has decided to import 0.6m tonnes of sugar and 4m tonnes of wheat to build strategic reserves.
The total import bill inched up by 66.11pc to $18.74bn in July-Sept FY22 as against $11.28bn over the corresponding months of last year.
The import bill of all food items posted a growth in value and quantity in the first three months this year, indicating a shortage in domestic production. Within the food group import, the major contribution came from wheat, sugar, edible oil, spices, tea and pulses. Edible oil import witnessed a substantial increase in quantity, value and per value terms.
Import of palm oil grew by 53.91pc in value in July-Sept FY22 to $891.15m from $579.008m over the corresponding months of last year. In quantity, a 14.80pc negative growth was recorded in import of palm oil during the same period. The palm oil import bill increased due to rise in international prices.
As a result, the prices of vegetable ghee and cooking oil went up during the last few months for domestic users. The import of soya bean oil dipped by 54.61pc in value and 74.42pc in quantity during 3MFY22 from a year ago.
The country imported 338,036 tonnes of wheat during the first three months of the current fiscal year against 431,593 tonnes imported last year, showing a decline of 21.68pc. During the first nine months of last year, the government imported 3.612m tonnes of wheat worth $983.326m as against no imports in the previous year.
From April this year to July, no wheat has been imported. The Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet has decided to import four million tonnes of wheat for keeping buffer stock.
The import of sugar stood at 157,827 tonnes in July-Sept FY22 as against 30,134 tonnes last year, showing an increase of 423pc. Despite imports the sugar price is steadily on the rise, with the commodity fetching a rate as high as Rs115 in the retail market.
Import of tea and spices grew by 6.46pc and 40.09pc, respectively, in July-Sept FY22. The growth is mainly due to a drop in import of these products under transit trade and checks on smuggling in border areas.
The import bill of pulses, dried fruits, milk and other food products witnessed a massive growth in July.
The machinery import bill increased by 35.15pc to $2.84bn in July-Sept FY22 against $2.10bn over the same month last year. Import of power-generating machinery went up by 24.94pc in the months under review mainly due to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor-related projects.
Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2021