MANILA, Philippines – The National Government’s budget deficit more than doubled to P67 billion during the first two months of the year from the P32.9 billion recorded in the same period last year, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves announced yesterday.
Teves attributed the higher deficit during the two-month period to higher spending and lower revenues given the government’s need to spend more to pump-prime the economy.
“This is mainly due to accelerated spending in line with the government’s economic resiliency plan and weaker revenues on slower growth and tax relief measures,” Teves told reporters yesterday.
He said that despite the P67 billion budget deficit for the first two months, the government is on track to meeting its preliminary programmed deficit of P110.1 billion for the first quarter.
Total expenditures for January to February amounted to P226.5 billion or 12.3 percent higher compared with last year’s P201.7 billion, Teves said.
Revenues, on the other hand, reached P159.4 billion or 5.5 percent lower compared to last year’s collection of P168.8 billion.
Of the total revenues, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) collected P102.6 billion during the two-month period, down by 4.6 percent from year-ago figures.
Similarly, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) generated P28.3 billion, down by seven percent from last year.
The income of the Bureau of the Treasury, on the other hand, increased by 28.2 percent to P16.8 billion while collection from other offices declined by 33.7 percent to P11.7 billion
In February alone, the budget deficit swelled to P29 billion from the P19 billion recorded in the same period last year.
Total expenditures for the month amounted to P110 billion, higher by 9.1 percent compared to year-ago figures while total revenues reached P81 billion, or down by one percent compared to the same month last year.
Of the revenues, the BIR contributed P47.4 billion, lower by 6.8 percent compared to the same month last year. Similarly, the BOC generated P13.9 billion for the month, down by 11.5 percent compared to year-ago figures. The BTr’s income amounted to P11.7 billion, up 38.2 percent while income from other offices generated P8 billion in revenues, higher by 18.4 percent compared to last year.
Despite the dismal performance of the BIR and the BOC, Teves said the government has not revised its budget deficit ceiling for the year of P177.2 billion. The government is eyeing to incur a deficit of P110.1 billion in the first quarter, P33.7 billion in the second quarter, P33.5 billion in the third quarter and a surplus of P182 million in the fourth quarter.
“Overall, we are on track with our fiscal program for the year. We will endeavor to further increase spending to support continued economic growth and provide assistance to the very poor amid these challenging times,” Teves said.–Iris C. Gonzales, Philippine Star