ISLAMABAD – Pakistan, an agricultural country, has spent huge amount of $8.35 billion on importing food goods in previous fiscal year (2020-21) in order to bridge the local shortage in the country.
The country, which was net exporter of the food commodities in the past, has increased its import bill of eatable goods by 53.91 per cent in one year. The fresh data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) showed that the country’s food import bill has gone from $5.42 billion in fiscal year 2019-20 to $8.35 billion in year 2020-21. Food import bill has ballooned mainly due to sugar, wheat, palm oil and pulses imports to bridge the shortfall in domestic production of agriculture produce.
The rising food import bill also triggered trade deficit, creating problems for the economic side of the government on the external sector of the economy. Trade deficit was recorded at above $31 billion in last fiscal year. Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin in annual budget for 2021-22 had announced incentives for the agriculture sector to increase the production of food goods and to control the soaring imports. The government on one side is claiming to achieve bumper crops of wheat and sugarcane and on other side it is importing these two commodities to build the strategic reserves to control the prices in the country.
In food group, the PBS data showed that government has spent $983 million in previous financial year, which is 100 per cent higher than the corresponding period of previous year. The government has imported palm oil worth $2.668 billion in FY2020-21 as compared to $1.841 billion in the same period of last year, showing an increase of 44.91 percent. Sugar import has cost $128.6 million to the national kitty. Meanwhile, the government has imported different pulses worth $709.7 million, milk, cream milk food for infants’ $191.5 million and tea import cost $580 million in last financial year.
Pakistan’s oil import has increased by 9.09 percent in previous fiscal year. The country’s oil imports were recorded at $11.36 billion in FY2020-21 as compared to $10.41 billion in corresponding period of the last year, showing an increase of 9.09 percent. The breakup showed petroleum products imports enhanced by 9.03 percent. Meanwhile, import of crude oil had gone up by 14.15 percent. However, import of liquefied natural gas fell by 1.69 percent. However, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) imports increased by 60.7 percent in value in July-June period.
Meanwhile, machinery imports went up by 15.45 percent to $10.144 billion in FY2020-21 from $8.787 billion in same period of the last year. Import of mobile phones increased by 50.75 percent in the period under review and recorded at $2.065 billion. Import of other apparatus has increased by 7.48 percent. The overall transport group has witnessed growth of93.25 pc.
The trade imbalance was recorded at $31.057 billion in year 2020-21 as compared to $23.159 billion in the preceding year 2019-20, showing an increase of 34.1 per cent, according to the latest data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). The trade deficit has swelled due to the massive increase in imports as against the exports. The country’s exports have increased by 18.11 per cent to $25.268 billion in fiscal year 2020-21 from $21.394 billion in the preceding year. On the other hand, the imports have gone up by 26.42 per cent to $56.325 billion in the last year from $44.553 billion of the preceding year. Therefore, the trade deficit has recorded at $31.057 billion.