ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s oil import bill jumped nearly 15 per cent year-on-year to $7.6 billion during 1HFY19 from $6.675bn in same period last year, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics reported on Thursday.
The country’s petroleum bill is steadily on the rise despite the fall in international prices. The government has taken several measures to cut import bill in a bid to ease pressure on the dwindling foreign exchange reserves.
Pakistan has already finalised agreements with Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates for a deferred oil facility which will allow the country to receive oil from the two Gulf nations with payment deferred for 365 days.
According to the latest data, imports from almost all of the categories — barring agricultural and petroleum groups — shrank during the period under review. As a result, the overall import bill edged lower by 2.29pc.
The decrease in total import value was steeper in December as it fell 8.88pc year-on-year. During the month, value of petroleum and agriculture group imports inched up 0.92pc and 2.21pc while food was bill declined by 4.36pc, machinery 22.16pc, transport 38.26pc and textile 4.01pc.
Data breakdown reveal that half-yearly the jump in petroleum group’s value was led by a surge in crude oil, higher by 38.15pc and natural gas (liquefied) 95.08pc while petrol while petroleum products recorded a drop of 12.01pc and petroleum gas (liquefied) 29.20pc. In terms of quantity imported, there was a 35.7pc decrease in petroleum products and 9.72 in crude.
For July-December FY18, machinery imports fell by 18.67pc to $4.47bn, from $5.5bn last year. This was led by shrinking imports of textile 12.46pc, power-generating machinery 47pc, construction and mining 31.92pc, telecom 11.7pc and electrical 17.87pc.
Transport group, another important contributor to the trade deficit, also receded during the half year as it dipped by 24.75pc, driven largely by a 39.5pc plunge in imports of completely built-up units and road motor vehicles 9.31pc. On the other hand, completely and semi knocked-out units grew by 9.12pc.
Food imports — the second-largest component contributing to the total import tally — shrank 8.5pc during the period under review. Except tea and pulses, import of all items under this shrank with palm oil — the heaviest component in the category — down 10.19pc.
Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2019