ISLAMABAD: The import bill of eatables ballooned by 50.29 per cent to $5.344 billion year-on-year during the first eight months of 2020-21 to bridge the shortfall in domestic production of agriculture produce.
The higher-than-expected food import bill also triggered trade deficit which would cause some uneasiness on the external side for the government, data compiled by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) showed on Tuesday.
The share of food items in the total import bill reached 15.76pc this year, compared to 11.29pc last year, making the country dependent on imports to ensure food security.
The trade deficit is widening as the overall import bill of the country has been on the rise since November last year, mainly due to an increase in the import bill of eatables. The import bill inched up by 7.67pc to $33.897bn in eight months this year as against $31.483bn over the corresponding months of last year.
The eatable import bill of all products posted a growth in value and quantity during the period under review, a clear indication of shortage in domestic production. Within food group import, the major contribution came from wheat, sugar, edible oil, spices, tea and pulses. Edible oil import witnessed a substantial increase during the period under review in quantity, value and per value terms.
The prices of vegetable ghee and cooking oil posted a growth during the last few months for domestic users. The industries ministry has failed to correct the prices and production of vegetable ghee and cooking oil also dropped in seven months this year. However, import of soybean oil increased by 7.49pc in value and 11pc in quantity.
Pakistan imported 3.328 million tonnes of wheat worth $915.902m in eight months this year as against no imports last year. The bulk import of wheat was made to bridge the gap between supply and demand of staple food in the market.