ISLAMABAD: The import bill of oil, machinery and food rose 21 per cent year-on-year in the first half year of 2016-17 despite drop in global prices.
The share of these products increased to 55.4pc in Pakistan’s total import bill in July-December from 50.2pc a year earlier, putting more pressure on the country’s balance of payments. Since the start of the current fiscal year, the trade deficit is widening because of increase in overall import bill.
Official figures issued by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics show that machinery imports went up by 41pc to $5.67bn during the period under review from $4.023bn a year ago. The growth was mainly driven by power generating machinery whose import grew 109pc year-on-year, followed by office machinery 73pc, textile machinery 11.3pc, construction machinery 55pc and electrical machinery 7.8pc.
However, the telecom sector’s import bill fell 5pc, mainly because of increase in the duty on its import of mobile phone and other apparatus.
Petroleum imports increased 11.2pc year-on-year to $4.99bn in July-December. A breakdown shows that imports of petroleum products went up by 18.5pc to $3.205bn while that of petroleum crude dropped 21.7pc.
In the petroleum group, the import bill of liquefied natural gas surged 124.4pc and a growth of 49.3pc was recorded in the import of liquefied petroleum gas.
Reduction in the oil import bill in the period under review followed a steep increase in the imports of petroleum products, which indicates that domestic refineries are not operating at full capacity.
The third-biggest component in the import bill was food commodities, whose exports rose 9pc year-on-year to $2.864bn. This increase has been attributed to massive imports of other food items worth $1.063bn, followed by $844.28m of palm oil and $371.23m of pulses. Imports of dry fruit and milk products also grew during the period under review.