Fuel import bill exceeds export earnings by Rs 27b

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    KATHMANDU, APR 07 –

    Petrol-PumpNepal’s export earnings are not enough to finance petroleum imports. The petroleum import bill has surpassed the country’s export earnings by Rs 27 billion as of the eighth month of the fiscal year.

    Amid longer load-shedding hours, the demand for petroleum products has risen significantly. In the last fiscal year, petroleum products amounted to almost one fifth of the country’s total imports.

    Nepal imported petroleum products worth Rs 87.87 billion, while total exports stood at Rs 60.97 billion, according to the Trade and Export Promotion Centre (TEPC). Compared to the same period a year ago, oil import has surged 24.8 percent.

    Based on the current growth rate, petroleum import is likely to cross Rs 120 billion by the end of this fiscal. In 2012-13, Nepal imported fuel worth Rs 111.12 billion.

    Trade expert Posh Raj Pandey attributed the rising fuel imports to power crisis. He said that the Constituent Assembly election on November 19 also contributed to the rise. Another factor contributing to rising petroleum import cost, according to Pandey, is the depreciation of the Nepali rupee against the US dollar. The exchange rate, which hovered below Rs 90 per dollar last year, dipped to the record low of Rs 109.03 on September 3, 2013.

    In the first eight months of the fiscal year, exports of items like iron and steel products, woolen carpet, yarns, textiles and readymade garments have increased.

    Export of readymade garment, which had slumped massively since 2005, is showing some signs of revival, with the figure rising 52.8 percent to Rs 3.76 billion over the review period. Although iron and steel products topped Nepal’s exports, they also came second on the import list, after petroleum products. Imports of transport vehicles, machinery and electronic and electrical equipment are other top five products on the list.

    The TEPC statistics show the trade deficit during the review period grew 17.8 percent to Rs 391 billion. Nepal imported goods worth Rs 459.5 billion against exports of Rs 60.97 billion.‘

    Source : eKantipur