The country's overall imports grew by more than 10 per cent in the fiscal year (FY) 2016-17 due mainly to higher import of capital machinery, officials said.
The actual import in terms of settlement of letters of credit (LCs) grew by 10.47 per cent to US$ 44. 27 billion during the July-June period of FY'17 from $40.08 billion in the previous fiscal year, according to the central bank's latest statistics released Tuesday.
On the other hand, opening of LCs, generally known as import orders, rose by 11.05 per cent to $48.12 billion in the FY17 from $43.33 billion in the previous fiscal year.
"The overall imports may increase further by the end of the current fiscal year because of rising trend in food grains import," a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the FE.
The central bank has already relaxed its policies to encourage rice import to meet the growing demand for the essential in the local markets, he said.
Earlier on July 20, the BB relaxed further its foreign exchange transaction rules for opening LCs against rice import to ensure sufficient supply of the staple food in the market.
Under the relaxed rules, the commercial banks were allowed till December 31, 2017 to open LCs against deferred or usance bill basis or under buyer's credit up to 90 days term.
The central bank had also allowed the banks to open LCs for importing rice with zero-margin on the basis of bank-client relationship.
Meanwhile, the import of capital machinery or industrial equipment used for production was up by 37.39 per cent to $4.85 billion in FY17 as against $3.53 billion of the previous fiscal year.
"The higher imports particularly in the energy and power sector mainly contributed to the rise in overall capital machinery imports," the BB official explained.
In FY17, the import of capital machinery for power and energy sector jumped by more than 133 per cent to $ 1.33 billion from $ 573.06 million in the FY16.
Higher imports in sectors including textile, leather and tannery, garment industry, pharmaceuticals, telecom industry and ship building have contributed to raise the overall capital machinery import in the last fiscal, according to the central banker.
He said the upward trend in capital machinery import might continue in the coming months due to implementation of different ongoing infrastructure development projects in the country.
Currently, the government is implementing nine projects under the Fast-Track Project Monitoring Committee, headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The imports of intermediate goods like coal, hard coke, clinker and scrap vessels increased by 11.05 per cent to $3.72 billion in the FY17 from $3.35 billion in the FY16.
The import of industrial raw materials rose by 3.52 per cent to $16.22 billion in the FY 17 from $15.67 billion a year ago.
Besides, import of machinery for miscellaneous industries witnessed a 7.25 per cent growth to $4.62 billion in the last fiscal from $4.30 billion in the previous FY.
"Machinery for other sectors and intermediate goods for industrial consumption also increased substantially, showing signs of boosting production in future," another BB official said.
He said lower prices of petroleum products in the global market have contributed to easing import payment pressure on the economy in the recent years.
Fuel oils import increased by 3.30 per cent to $2.52 billion in the last fiscal from $2.44 billion a year ago, he added.
The import of food grains particularly rice and wheat increased by 2.78 per cent to $1.15 billion in the last fiscal from $1.12 billion in the FY16, the BB data showed.
However, import of consumer goods increased by 9.18 per cent to $5.02 billion in the FY17 from $4.60 billion a year ago.