Slower spending narrows Feb. budget gap to P23.7B
Spending on public goods and services slowed in February, resulting in a narrower budget deficit of P23.7 billion, the latest Bureau of the Treasury report showed.
Total expenditure rose by a mere 1 percent to P175.6 billion in February from P173.6 billion a year ago. February disbursements were also lower than January’s P198.1 billion.
To compare, expenditure jumped 22 percent in February last year, as the Aquino administration ramped up spending ahead of the May 2016 elections.
Netting out interest payments, which grew 14 percent to P24.2 billion from P21.3 billion last year, disbursements declined by 1 percent to P151.3 billion from P152.3 billion in the same month last year.
In a statement, the Treasury attributed the higher interest payments that month to “coupon payments and other charges relating to liability management transactions in 2016 and the early part of 2017.”
Tax and nontax revenues in February, meanwhile, rose 9 percent to P151.8 billion from P139 billion a year ago, although lower than January’s P200.3 billion.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue’s tax take rose by 12 percent year-on-year to P105.9 billion, while the Bureau of Customs’ collections of import duties and other taxes climbed 14 percent year-on-year to P30.9 billion.
As such, the budget deficit in February was 31 percent smaller than the P34.6-billion gap last year.
At the end of the first two months, the budget deficit was also narrower at P21.5 billion, or 44 percent smaller than the P38.1-billion deficit as of end-February 2016.
Expenditures from January to February reached P373.7 billion, up 4 percent from P359.3 billion a year ago.
Interest payments of P66.6 billion at end-February were nearly unchanged from year-ago level, while other expenditures were up 5 percent year-on-year to P307.1 billion.
End-February revenue, meanwhile, jumped 10 percent to P352.2 billion from P321.2 billion last year, which the Treasury attributed to “reforms set in place among revenue-collecting agencies as well as the pickup in economic activity for the period.”
The BIR’s end-February collection grew 13 percent year-on-year to P253.3 billion, while the BOC’s two-month take rose 15 percent year-on-year to P66.8 billion.
The Duterte administration had set a budget deficit cap at 3 percent of the gross domestic product until 2022 as the government wanted to ramp up spending, especially on infrastructure.
For 2017, the deficit was targeted to reach P478.1 billion.
In January, the government recorded a surplus of P2.2 billion, as revenue exceeded expenditures amid double-digit jumps in the collections of the two biggest tax agencies.
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