JULY-MAR FOOD IMPORT DOWN 1.69PCT

KANWAL SALEEM
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

May 7 - 20, 20
12

Food group import into the country during the first three quarters of financial year 2011-12 has registered negative growth of 1.69 percent.

As per the data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the country imported different food commodities costing US$ 3.846 billion during the period from July-March 2011-12 as against the import of $3.912 billion during the same period of last year.

According to the data, the major commodities which registered negative growth in their import during last nine months of current financial year include wheat unmilled 100 percent, sugar 97.77 percent, soybean oil 26.16 percent, and dry fruit and nuts 0.27 percent.

The import of pulses also remained on downward track as its import in the country was decreased by 8.52 percent. The import of wheat was recorded at zero as against the last year's import of 8,901 metric tons costing $5.1 million in nine months.

The import of soybean oil was recorded at 32,323 metric tons costing $41.955 million during July to March 2011-12 as compared with the import of 56,179 metric tons worth $56.179 million in the corresponding period earlier.

The data show that import of milk, cream and milk for infants was increased by 6.26 percent as milk, cream and food for infants costing $1.21 million were imported to fulfill the domestic requirements.

Sugar import was decreased by 97.77 percent as its import was recorded at 19,168 metric tons valuing of $15.126 million as against the import of 10,22,143 metric tons costing $677.145 million previously.

EXPORTS OF MEAT, FISH & FRUITS INCREASE

On the other hand, the exports of meat and fish as well as their preparations witnessed growth of 13.88 percent and 12.12 percent during the first three quarters of the current fiscal year over the same period of last year.

Similarly, exports of fruits during the period under review increased by 15.25 percent.

The data reveal that exports of meat and meat preparations increased from $108.542 million during July-March (2010-11) to $123.606 million during July-March (2011-12), showing growth of 13.88 percent.

In terms of quantity, the meat exports increased 2.28 percent by going up from 37,829 metric tons to 38,691 metric tons. On the other hand, the exports of fish and fish preparations increased from $198.698 million to $222.788 million, showing increase of 12.12 percent. However, in terms of quantity, the seafood exports decreased 3.18 percent by falling from 87,272 metric tons to 84,498 metric tons.

The exports of fruits also surged 15.25 percent during the first three quarters, from $239.222 million to $275.712 million.

On month-on-month basis, the exports of meat during March 2012 increased 4.12 percent as compared to the exports of February 2012, however decreased by 2.79 percent when compared to the exports of March 2011.

Similarly, exports of fish and fish preparations in March 2012 increased 30.97 percent when compared to the exports of February 2012, however, decreased by 3.24 percent when compared to the same month of last year. Fruit exports during the month of March witnessed increase of 17.24 percent as compared to the exports of March 2011, however decreased by 43.39 percent against the exports of February 2012.

The overall food exports during July-March of 2011-12 decreased 5.06 percent as compared to the same period of last year.

Food exports were recorded at $2.976 billion this year against the exports of $3.135 billion last year. The major commodities that witnessed decrease in exports included rice, vegetables, wheat, and spices.

ADB REPORT

According to a latest report released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Asia's rapid growth is leaving millions behind, causing a widening gap between rich and poor that threatens to undermine the region's stability.

The Asian Development Outlook 2012 (ADO 2012) says income divisions are rising markedly in the region, where the richest one percent of households accounts for six percent to eight percent of total income. About 20 percent of total income went to the wealthiest five- percent in most countries, it said and showing that the share of income accruing to the richest households has increased over time.

The Gini coefficient 'a key measure of inequality' grew in the region's three largest economies: People's Republic of China (PRC), India, and Indonesia. From the early 1990s to around 2010, it increased from 32 to 43 in PRC, from 33 to 37 in India, and from 29 to 39 in Indonesia. Considering the region as a single unit, the Gini coefficient has leapt from 39 to 46 in the last two decades.

Unequal access to education, health and other public services contributes greatly to growing inequalities, further hindering opportunities for the poor to raise their living standards.

School dropout rates are up to five times higher for children in the poorest families, while the chance of a poor infant dying at birth can be 10 times higher than those of a child born to a rich family.

Highly uneven distribution of new technology, infrastructure, and investment is further fueling the divide, particularly between rural and urban areas and coastal and inland provinces.

In PRC, rural-urban and interprovincial differences account for the bulk of inequality.

Skill premiums have risen in many countries and better-educated workers are enjoying much higher income growth. Technological progress favors capital over labor, with the share of labor income in gross domestic product declining and that of capital increasing in many countries.

The abundance of labor relative to capital in the region is also a contributing factor to the declining labor income share, says the report.

Governments need to focus on policy options for reducing inequality, it advised.

These include the creation of quality jobs, increased spending on education and health, and expanding social protection including conditional cash transfers for the poor.

Other key policy options include switching fiscal spending from untargeted price subsidies such as on fuel to targeted transfers, greater and more equitable revenue mobilization, and more investment in infrastructure to reduce imbalances between developed and lagging regions.