The government incurred a budget deficit of P66.5 billion in the first quarter, almost double the amount registered in the same period last year, but 10 percent, or P7.4 billion, lower than planned.
According to data the Bureau of the Treasury released Thursday, deficit spending fell short of the goal as the government missed both its tax collection and spending targets set for the period.
From January to March, expenditures reached P430.8 billion. It was P21.9 billion, or 5 percent, less than the planned P452.7 billion.
However, spending was 9 percent higher than that of the same quarter in 2012.
Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad said in a statement that “although our year-on-year growth figures for the first quarter may appear unremarkable, the data that defines these spending levels is actually very encouraging.”
In explaining the single-digit growth in expenditures, Abad pointed out that the government spent less on items that contributed little to Malacañang’s development strategy, such as tax subsidies to state firms or the settlement of maturing loans taken out by other public entities.
“Disbursements are going exactly where they’re urgently needed—in programs and projects designed to boost our growth prospects and which will translate to direct, immediate and sustainable benefits to all Filipinos,” Abad said.
In the first quarter revenue reached P364.3 billion, which was P14.5 billion, or 4 percent, short of the government’s P378.8-billion goal.
But compared to the same period last year, actual collections improved by one percent from P361 billion.
In a separate statement, Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima said that the government has started to implement certain initiatives that would “further strengthen” the collection performance of revenue agencies.
One such project, Purisima said, is the use of data analytics, complemented by an advertising campaign, to increase compliance among self-employed taxpayers.
“We expect our anti-smuggling measures, including port accreditation and import plan monitoring, to have a significant impact on our revenues this year,” Purisima said.
“Our drive for good governance will manifest in budget reports that continue to get closer to targets.”
From January to March, the BIR contributed P224.1 billion in revenue. It was P14 billion, or 5 percent, short of the three-month target set by the inter-agency Development Budget Coordination Committee.
But the same figure was P15 billion, or 6.6 percent, higher than that of the same period last year.
The Bureau of Customs chipped in P68.8 billion. It was P7.6 billion, or 10 percent, short of the target. It was also P713 million, or one percent, less than the collections registered a year ago.
Also, the Bureau of the Treasury turned in P24.9 billion, exceeding its target for the first quarter by P4.3 billion. Still, it was P12.8 billion, or 34 percent, lower than that of a year ago.