ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s combined import bill of food, oil and machinery groups swelled to $2.5 billion during first month (July) of the ongoing financial year 2017-18.

The import bill of these three groups enhanced by over 33.44 percent as against the same period of the last fiscal year. The country’s overall imports ballooned to $4.8 billion during July mainly due to heavy imports of food, oil and machinery goods, according to the latest data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) that was released on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Pakistan exported goods worth $1.63 billion during July 2017 as compared to $1.48 billion of the same period of last year, showing an increase of 10.58 percent. Therefore, the country’s trade deficit was registered at $3.2 billion during the previous month as against $2.06 billion of the preceding month, showing a growth of 55.46 percent. Pakistan’s current account deficit widened to $2.1 billion in July this year against just $662 million in the same period last year due to increase in trade deficit.

The government is considering several options to control imports. The ministry of commerce is likely to finalize the tariff rationalisation plan, helping significantly reduce the import bill, in next few days.

According to the PBS, the country spent $946.9 million on imports of petroleum group, which is 21.7 percent higher over a year ago. In petroleum products, the government had imported petroleum products worth $581 million and spent $218.5 million on petroleum crude. Similarly, the country had imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) worth $136 million and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) worth $11.2 million.

Meanwhile, the country had spent $1.02 billion on importing machinery during first month of the ongoing financial year, which is 40.9 percent higher than the import of $721.4 million of the corresponding period of the last year. The growth was mainly driven by power generating machinery. Its import grew by 59.85 percent year-on-year to $286.4 million, followed by electrical machinery and appliances whose imports rose by 33.9 percent to $167 million and other machinery by 42 percent to $320 billion.

The import bill of construction machinery went up by 46.72pc and agriculture machinery by 48.7pc. The import bill of the telecom sector increased by 53.53pc.

The third-biggest component was food commodities whose imports rose 45.15 percent year-on-year to $534.7 million. This increase can be attributed to massive imports of palm oil, which went up 48.56 percent to $176.6 million followed by the rise of 61.82 pc in the imports of ‘other’ food items amounting to $168 million.