ISLAMABAD  -   Pakistan’s oil import bill rose by 17.63 percent during first five months (July to November) of the ongoing fiscal year, putting pressure on the overall imports of the country.

The country had imported petroleum products worth $6.5 billion during July to November period of the year 2018-19 as against $5.6 billion of the corresponding period of the previous year, showed the data released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). In absolute term, the import of oil products enhanced by $900 million in one year.

The increase in oil imports had pushed the overall imports of the country to $23.6 billion in just five months of the ongoing financial year. The increase in imports bill is resulting in widening of current account deficit, which is one of main challenges for the economic team of PTI government. Pakistan had approached Saudi Arabia for financial package to reduce the pressure on balance of payment situation. Under the package, Saudi Arabia would place $3 billion cash deposits in the account of State Bank of Pakistan. In addition, it would also provide a one-year deferred payment facility for the import of oil, worth up to $3 billion.

The PBS data showed that petroleum group imports saw a robust growth of 20.86 percent reaching $1.36 billion in November as against $1.12 billion over the corresponding month last year, with largest surge coming from natural gas liquefied, which grew by 58 percent in the month of November over the corresponding period of previous year.

Meanwhile, during the first five months of the current fiscal year, bill for petroleum products imports had gone up by 17.63 percent. In petroleum products, the government had imported petroleum products worth $2.9 billion and spent $2.1 billion on petroleum crude. Similarly, the country had imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) worth $1.5 billion and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) worth $86 million.

Barring petroleum products, almost all of the groups in imports table posted negative growth.

According to the PBS figures, the country’s machinery imports had gone down by 17.9 percent. The government had spent $3.7 billion on importing machinery during first five months of the ongoing financial year as against $4.5 billion of the corresponding period of the last year. In this group, the growth of power generating machinery had gone down by 52.58 percent. It was followed by electrical machinery and appliances whose imports declined by over 10 percent and other machinery imports by 84.3 percent.