Budget surplus widens as gov’t spending declines
The national government posted a budget surplus of P44.5 billion in January as disbursements on public goods and services declined due to a reenacted budget while revenues rose following the second round of tax increases mandated under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act.
The latest Bureau of the Treasury data released Monday showed that the fiscal surplus at the start of the year widened by 337 percent from P10.2 billion during the same month last year.
Combined tax and nontax revenues rose 7 percent to P256.7 billion from P238.9 billion a year ago.
The tax take of the Bureaus of Internal Revenue (BIR), of Customs (BOC) and other offices grew 8 percent year-on-year to P235 billion.
The BIR’s collections increased 5 percent to P185.1 billion “partially due to the increased excise tax on some products identified under the TRAIN law,” the Treasury said.
As for the BOC, the 18-percent jump in its collections of import duties and other taxes to P48.4 billion was “on the back of process improvements implemented by the agency such as tighter monitoring of imports and proper valuation of goods,” the Treasury added.
Nontax revenues also rose 5 percent to P21.8 billion as the Treasury’s income climbed 12 percent to P9 billion.
On the other hand, government expenditures in January fell 7 percent to P212.2 billion from P228.7 billion last year.
“The contraction in government spending resulted largely from the delays in the implementation of new government projects and salary adjustments due to the deferred passage of the 2019 general appropriations act (GAA),” the Treasury said.
No thanks to the budget impasse, economic expansion this year is expected to slow down such that the Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) last week slashed its 2019 growth target range to 6-7 percent from 7-8 percent previously.
The state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) had also estimated gross domestic product (GDP) growth to fall to 4.2-4.9 percent—the slowest in eight years—if the government operated on a reenacted budget for the entire year.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III had said the delayed approval of the P3.757-trillion 2019 national budget would cost the government P46 billion in projects and programs that could not be implemented during the first quarter, hence would slow economic growth. —BEN O. DE VERA