ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s oil and eatable import bill recorded a sharp increase in the first four months (July-October) of 2021-22 from a year ago owing to rising prices on the international market and massive depreciation of the rupee.
The total import bill inched up by 65.4pc to $25.1 billion in 4MFY22 as against $15.17bn in the corresponding period of last year.
The steady increase in import bill of these two sectors are triggering trade deficit and pose a threat to cause pressures on the external side of the government. As a result, unprecedented increase in prices was seen for domestic users.
The oil import bill rose by over 95.58 per cent to $6.19 billion in 4MFY22 from $3.16bn over the corresponding period last year. The domestic users had to endure unprecedented increases in the prices of petroleum products.
$3.12bn spent on food buying mainly wheat, sugar and edible oil
Data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics on Monday showed that the import of petroleum products went up by 92pc in value and 9.66pc in quantity. Crude oil imports rose by 84.16pc in value and 0.82pc in quantity in 4MFY22 while those of liquefied natural gas increased by 132pc in value. Liquefied petroleum gas imports jumped by 34.5pc.
The food import bill rose by over 37pc to $3.12bn in 4MFY22 from $2.28bn in 4MFY21 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 fiscal 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.
Within the food group imports, the major contribution came from wheat, sugar, edible oil, spices, tea and pulses. Edible oil import witnessed a substantial increase in quantity and value terms.
Import of palm oil grew by 71.54pc in value in 4MFY22 to $1.13bn from $662.96m over the corresponding months of last year. 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 soyabean oil dipped by 50.24pc in value and 71.81pc in quantity during 4MFY22 from a year ago.
The country imported 731,751 tonnes of wheat in 4MFY22 against 898,904 tonnes in 4MFY21, showing a decline of 18.6pc. During the first nine months of last fiscal year, the government imported 3.612m tonnes of wheat worth $983.326m as against no imports in the preceding year.
From April 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 248,000 tonnes in 4MFY22 as against 226,675 tonnes last year, an increase of 9.41pc. Despite imports the sugar price is steadily on the rise.
Import of spices grew by 44.13pc in July-Oct FY22. The import bill of pulses, dried fruits, milk and other food products witnessed a massive growth in July.
The machinery import bill increased by 40.73pc to $3.71bn in July-Oct FY22 against $2.63bn over the same period last year.
Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2021