Import payments in May increased by 5.94 per cent year-on-year due to a rise in payment of bills for the food products imported to meet the demand for the items in Ramadan, fasting month for the Muslims, that began on May 28.
Industrial raw materials and capital machinery also contributed to achieving the moderate growth in import in last month.
According to the latest Bangladesh Bank data, the total import bill payments stood at $3.58 billion in May this year, while the figure was $3.38 billion in the same month of 2016.
The businesspeople are now importing a good amount of industrial raw materials as political uncertainty in the country eased in recent months.
The imports of rice, milk food, edible oil, dates, and ginger rose significantly in May as the demand for the commodities usually rises in Ramadan, a BB official said.
The imports of rice and milk food increased to $9.16 million and $23.92 million respectively in May, 2017 from $6.77 million and $20.18 million in May, 2016, the BB data showed.
The BB official said that the supply of rice had recently decreased at the market due to losses of crops to flash floods in haor areas and heavy rainfall in major parts of the country.
According to the food department, the total government food stock reduced to 4.95 lakh tonnes — 1.91 lakh tonnes of rice and 3.04 lakh tonnes of wheat — as on June 13.
The prices of rice have abruptly increased since mid-April mainly because of early rainfall and floods that destroyed boro crops in the haor region and Chalan Beel, the central banker said.
He said that the import of rice would increase more in the coming months due to the lower production of the staple.
The import payments for edible oil and dates in May, 2017 increased to $72.72 million and $5.94 million respectively from $31.04 million and $2.63 million in the same month of 2016.
The import payment for ginger in May, 2017 rose to $3.75 million from $2.70 million in the same month of 2016.
Moreover, the import of garment industry-related products and chemical products also increased in last month.
The imports of back-to-back LC products (fabrics, accessories and other materials) for the garment sector and chemical products increased to $592.64 million and $195.42 million respectively in May, 2017 from $581.39 million and $121.80 million in May last year.
The imports of capital machinery increased to $252.63 million in May this year from $217.14 million in the corresponding month a year ago.
The BB official suspected that a section of businesspeople were laundering money abroad in the name of import of capital machinery.
The BB data showed that the opening of letters of credit, also known as actual import orders, posted a 17-per cent growth in May this year from that in the same month of 2016.
The higher growth in opening of LCs means that the imports would increase more in the coming months, the BB official said.
In May this year, LCs worth $4.02 billion were opened by banks against LCs worth $3.44 billion opened in the same month of 2016.
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