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ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Commerce and Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) are not on the same page as a significant difference was evident in the trade figures for July 2020 released by the two with a one day gap. Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood took to twitter on Tuesday and shared a chart claiming that the country's exports have registered 5.8 percent growth in July 2020-21 to $1.998 billion as compared to $1.889 billion during the corresponding month in 2019-20.

However, the PBS released trade figures show that exports have posted 6.04 percent growth in July 2020-21 to $2 billion as compared to $1.886 billion during the corresponding month in 2019-20.

According to the Commerce Ministry, imports declined by 4.2 percent in dollar terms in July 2020 as compared to July 2019. Imports stood at $3.540 billion in July 2020 as compared to $3.696 billion in July 2019, showing a negative growth of $156 million. The trade deficit which was $1.808 billion in July 2019-20 reduced to $1.542 billion in July 2020-21, showing a 14.7 percent improvement in trade balance.

However, according to the PBS imports declined by 1.97 percent, in dollar value terms, in July 2020, as compared to July 2019. The imports stood at $3.640 billion in July 2020 as compared to $3.713 billion in July 2019 showing a negative growth of $0.073 million. The trade deficit which was $1.827 billion in July 2019-20 has reduced to $1.640 billion in July 2020, showing a 10.24 percent improvement in trade balance.

According to PBS exports have posted 25.08 percent growth in July 2020 to $2 billion as compared to $1.599 billion during June 2020. On the import side, a decline of 2.12 percent, in dollar value terms, was recorded in July 2020, as compared to June 2020. The imports stood at $ 3.640 billion in July 2020 as compared to $ 3.719 billion in June 2020, showing a negative growth of $ 0.079 million. The trade deficit which was $ 2.120 billion in June 2020 has reduced to $ 1.640 billion in July 2020, showing a 22.64 percent improvement in trade balance.

The Ministry of Commerce in a recent meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Special Initiatives termed the weightage formula of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) used for Large Scale Manufacturing Industries output as redundant and not presenting the real picture.

Additional Secretary Commerce said that the Census of Manufacturing Industries (CMI) 2005-06 is still used by the PBS for LSM. However, now 60 percent is services sector and the country has gone towards de-industrialization. The weightage formula used by the PBS is outdated and needs to be changed.

The Member PBS responded that provisional Quantum Index number of large scale manufacturing industries (QIM) has been computed in PBS on the basis of latest production data of 112 items collected from three agencies including Oil Companies Advisory Committee (OCAC), Ministry of Industries and Provincial Bureau of Statistics (BOS). He further stated that rebasing methodology is under process and CMI report is expected to be released by December after which new weightage formula would be used. Currently services sectors are about 60 percent, industries 20 percent and agriculture 19 percent.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020