KARACHI: Pakistan’s petroleum products import shot up by a phenomenal 124 per cent during month of May, as compared to the same month of last fiscal year, latest official data reveals.
The total oil imports during month under review came to $1.223 billion against $545 million in May last year, Federal Board of Statistics (FBS) reports. In July-May period of current fiscal year, the oil imports surged substantially by 9.11 per cent compared to the same months of previous year.
The total oil import came to $9.342 billion in July-May 2009-10 against $8.562 billion in the corresponding period of previous year. The country imported more petroleum products compared to crude oil, which reflected the decline in production from oil refineries amid growing circular debt situation.
The import of petroleum products registered 23.12 per cent growth during the months under review. The import of crude oil products decreased 10.65 per cent in these months.
In the import of oil products, import of furnace oil (FO), major fuel for electricity generation in Pakistan, stood at record 0.75mn tons in the month of May 2010. Due to rising FO demand in the country by thermal power plants and restrictive local refinery capacity, imports of FO is consistently increasing.
During the first 11 months of the current financial year, which ends this month, total imports of FO stood at 6 million tons against 4.6 million tons last year. During this period, FO demand in the country stood at 8.4mn tons. This year, 71 per cent of the FO demand is met through imports, compared to 63 per cent last year.
Similarly, import of petrol in the month of May stood at record 0.1mn tons compared to average monthly imports of 0.05mn tons in FY10, which is mainly due to higher petrol demand amid CNG shortage. Analysts termed the rising oil imports as an alarming development for Pakistan’s overall balance of payments.
“At a time when current account deficit has been reduced to close to two per cent of GDP in the current fiscal, this rising trend of oil import can be a challenge for the government next year when the uncertainty of new IMF loan persists,” analyst Farhan Mahmood at Topline Securities noted on Wednesday.
The import of machinery group increased in first eleven months of current fiscal to $1.757 billion compared to $1.245 billion in the corresponding period of previous year, reflecting 41.07 per cent increase. The import of textile group increased 12.68 per cent in the period under review against the previous year.
The food group import decreased 17.70 per cent to $3.160 billion in the previous year, compared to $3.840 billion in the same months of previous year. The machinery group import also declined by 18.32 per cent to $4.880 billion against $5.975 billion in the same months of last year.