The country’s import payments registered a 34.54-per cent growth in January this year against the 5.04-per cent negative growth in the corresponding month of 2016 due to a rise in payments for petroleum products and some other commodities.
According to the latest Bangladesh Bank data, letters of credit involving $3.88 billion were settled in January this year against $2.88 billion settled in the same month of 2016. The import payments accounted for $3.04 billion in January of 2015.
A BB official told New Age on Sunday that the settlement of LCs, or actual import payments, increased significantly in January of the current fiscal year 2016-17 as the majority of food products, petroleum products, industrial raw materials and capital machinery rose on the global market during the month.
The import of petroleum products increased by 150.76 per cent to $218.04 million in January 2017 from $86.95 million during the same month a fiscal year ago as the country’s industrial units depended on the products due to the persistent crisis of natural gas.
The global prices of the petroleum products recently increased that played a role in raising the payments for the imported items, the official said.
Demand for power to run irrigation pumps has also fuelled the use of the petroleum products, he said.
Import payments for sugar and milk food in January
of 2017 increased to $153.35 million and $18.37 million respectively from $58.01 million and $15.08 million in the same month of 2016.
The prices of sugar and milk food have recently increased at the global market, which put an impact on the import cost of the three products, the central banker said.
The BB data, however, showed that the import of wheat decreased to $56.21 million in January, 2017 from $92.45 million in the same month of 2016 as the price of the food item decreased significantly on the global market.
Import payments for pulses and onion in January of 2017 increased to $65.86 million and $34.83 million respectively from $35.43 million and $14.96 million in the same month of 2016.
In January of 2016, import of capital machinery posted a growth of 39.86 per cent from that in the same month of 2016.
Settlement of LCs for capital machinery amounted to $264.34 million in January of 2017 against $189 million in the same month of 2016.
The BB official said that the import of capital machinery jumped in recent times, prompting a suspicion that money laundering might have occurred in the process.
He said that some businesspeople might have laundered money through over-invoicing.
Settlement of LCs for back-to-back import products of the RMG sector in January of 2017 increased to $614.43 million from $536.18 million during the same period a fiscal year ago, the BB data showed.
The BB data showed that opening of LCs posted a growth of 48.28 per cent in January of 2017 against the 8.56-per cent negative growth in the same period of 2016.
The total value of the LCs opened in the country in January 2017 was $4.33 billion while it was $2.92 billion in the same period of 2016.
The higher opening of LCs means that the import payments may increase in the months to come, the central banker said.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Miscellany