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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s trade deficit was recorded at $ 20.64 billion in five months— from July to November 2021- compared to $ 9.72 billion witnessed in the corresponding period in 2020-21 whereas it was recorded $ 5.02 billion in November last year alone, the federal government admitted in Senate on Tuesday.

“Pakistan’s exports in goods are picking up the pace and went up by 13 per cent to $ 25.3 billion in financial year 2020-21 from $ 22.53 billion over the last year. Exports witnessed 26.89 per cent growth during July-November 2021-22 and remained $ 12.364 billion compared to $ 9.744 billion during the same period of 2020-21.

H1 trade deficit widens 106.4pc to $25.48bn YoY

However, imports into the country also increased resulting in huge trade deficit during the period of July-November 2021,” read a written reply shared by the Commerce Ministry in Senate in response a question posed by Mushtaq Ahmed from Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) in the Senate sitting.

The JI senator asked whether the trade deficit increased to $ 5 billion in the month of November 2021— and whether the import bill increased from $ 17.5 billion to $ 32.9 billion during the current year.

According to the data shared by the Commerce Ministry, Pakistan’s imports were recorded at $ 33.01 billion from July-November 2021-22 compared to $ 19.46 billion from July-November 2020-21, showing a surge of $ 13.54 billion whereas exports were recorded at $ 12.36 billion from July-November 2021-22 compared to $ 9.74 billion recorded in the corresponding period in 2020-21.

The data reveals that the country’s imports were $ 5.57 billion in July, $ 6.57 billion in August, $ 6.56 billion, $ 6.36 billion in October and $ 7.92 billion in November 2021-22. The exports in the same period were $ 2.34 billion, $ 2.24 billion, $ 2.40 billion, $ 2.46 billion and $ 2.90 billion. The trade deficit in the same period was $ 3.23 billion, $ 4.33 billion, $ 4.15 billion, $ 3.90 billion and $ 5.02 billion.

Later, Parliamentary Affairs State Minister Ali Muhammad Khan, on behalf of Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Affairs Advisor Babar Awan, moved the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill 2022 and the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Second Amendment) Bill 2022.

Both the bills were referred to the relevant Senate standing committee. The two bills were passed by National Assembly on this month’s 13th. These two bills aim at ensuring natural gas pricing on regular basis and bringing liquefied natural gas (LNG) and regasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) licensing under regulatory framework.

Taking the floor, the parliamentary affairs state minister said, the country’s foreign exchange reserves were touching $ 20 billion due to ‘prudent policies’ of this government.

The minister admitted that unprecedented inflation was affecting the livelihoods of the masses, claiming that government was working to curb the inflation.

Communications Minister Murad Saeed informed the House that Prime Minister Imran Khan would perform the ground-breaking of Karachi-Quetta-Chaman Highway N-25 next month. The infrastructure projects of 3,800 kilometres were underway in Balochistan and those of 2,032km were completed across the country in the last three years, he added.

Sherry Rehman from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), on a calling attention notice, took on the government for the ‘slippage’ of Pakistan on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) by 16 places in just one year. “Instead of clamping down on the real corruption taking flight in Pakistan with impunity, PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) has put itself in an untenable corner where under its government Pakistan has been ranked 140 out of 180 countries in the Transparency International’s CPI of 2021,” she said.

The report, she said, shows that corruption has increased in Pakistan in the last three years which is totally the opposite of the government’s deeply flawed and now ‘totally delegitimised narrative’.

“According to the yardstick of the TI which was embraced by PTI, in 2020, Pakistan stood at 124 but in 2021 our position worsened by 16 spots to 140. In 2017, Pakistan was at 117 in this index and since then we have fallen by 23 spots. If this is the transparent and anti-corruption government, where has Pakistan’s corruption profile reached in three years,” Rehman added.

Asif Kirmani from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) demanded of the government to resolve the issue of those stranded Pakistani students who are studying in Chinese universities and colleges but are stranded in Pakistan for the last two years as Chinese authorities are not allowing them entry in China, citing Covid restrictions.

Saadia Abbasi from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) expressed concern on reports that State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) instructed the commercial banks to be aware of the possibility that federal government could default on the domestic loans.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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