The government has banned the import of non-essential and luxury items to stabilize the fast depleting foreign exchange reserves and rising import bill, as part of measures that a minister claimed would save $6 billion.
The announcement was made by Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb at a news conference in Islamabad on Thursday.
Automobiles and mobile phones are among the notable products whose import has been banned. The complete list of items includes:
- Mobile Phones
- Home Appliances
- Fruits and Dry Fruits (except from Afghanistan)
- Private Weapons & Ammunition
- Chandeliers & Lighting (except Energy Savers)
- Headphones & Loudspeakers
- Sauces, Ketchup etc.
- Doors and Window Frames
- Travelling Bags and Suitcases
- Sanitary ware
- Fish & Frozen Fish
- Carpets (except from Afghanistan)
- Preserved Fruits
- Tissue Paper
- Luxury mattresses & sleeping bags
- Jams & Jelly
- Bathroom ware / Toiletries
- Heaters / Blowers
- Kitchen ware
- Aerated water
- Frozen Meat
- Pasta etc.
- Ice cream
- Shaving Goods
- Luxury Leather Apparel
- Musical Instruments
- Saloon items like hair dryers etc.
The minister said that the steps taken by the government will also help reduce the growing current account deficit. She added that the key objective of these measures is to reduce the country’s reliance on imports and introduce an export-oriented policy to promote the local industry in the country.
The minister announced that the government is preparing a plan to promote local manufacturers so that employment opportunities are generated.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in a tweet said that the decision to ban the import of luxury items will save the country precious foreign exchange. The premier added that financially stronger people must lead in this effort so that the less privileged among us do not have to bear this burden inflicted on them by the previous government.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Hammad Azhar questioned the decision to ban imports of certain items and said that the items only made up a small percentage of the country’s total import bill.
“Non-oil current account deficit stands at just under $1 billion. These measures to ban items will be inconsequential,” the minister said in a tweet.
It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan’s import bill has surged to $65.5 billion in the first ten months of the current fiscal year, up from $44.73 billion in the corresponding period of the previous year.
The foreign exchange reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan are also down to a 23-month low.