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The Ministry of Commerce transfers the burden for growing imports to other parties

ISLAMABAD:  The Commerce Ministry is allegedly holding other departments accountable for the country’s current account deficit (CAD), which is rising month after month.

In a recent meeting, the Federal Cabinet voiced worry about the “exceptional” rise in imports and recommended that imports be closely monitored to bring the current account deficit under control.

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According to well-informed sources, the Commerce Ministry says that because provinces and related ministries say they don’t need more wheat or sugar, why are these commodities being pushed to be imported?

According to sources, the ministries concerned openly opposed the import of sugar and wheat at a recent high-level meeting, but Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin insisted on importing these commodities on the grounds that, while stock levels were adequate, it would be prudent to have some strategic reserves in case of any eventuality.

In August, Pakistan’s current account deficit grew to $1.48 billion.

Fearing backlash, the Commerce Ministry did not reveal import data on October 4, 2021.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (BPS) released provisional foreign trade figures, which indicate an increase of over 100 per cent in trade deficit during the first quarter of current fiscal year.

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“Imports are being analysed in consultation with other government departments and would be released shortly,” said Commerce Ministry’s press official.

Commerce Ministry officials further argue that neither are the prices of LNG, POL in its control nor it has asked the government to import wheat and sugar.

“The import bill of LNG, POL products, wheat and sugar has increased the imports, which has worsened the trade balance,” the sources continued.

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