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April budget surplus hits P86.9B

Underspending narrows deficit by 96.8% to P3.4B in first 4 months
05:30 AM May 25, 2019

The budget surplus posted by the national government in April—the month during which revenues were historically higher due to the yearly tax-paying deadline—almost doubled to P86.9 billion as underspending persisted that month due to the delayed approval of this year’s budget.

The latest Bureau of the Treasury data released Friday showed that last month’s surplus was 87.6-percent bigger than the P46.3 billion recorded in April last year.

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Total revenues inched up by a mere 0.4 percent year-on-year to P308.7 billion as the non-tax take slid 25.7 percent to P19.8 billion.

For instance, the Treasury’s income in April declined by 26.5 percent year-on-year to P10.5 billion due to “lower collections of dividends on shares of stocks held by the government,” it said in a statement.

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As for tax revenues, the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s collections rose 1.2 percent to P288.9 billion, while the import duties and other taxes collected by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) increased 10.4 percent to P51.7 billion.

In the case of the BOC, the Treasury attributed its higher take to “stringent monitoring and continuing efforts to enhance revenue-collection capabilities and intensified control measures against undervaluation, misdeclaration and other forms of technical smuggling.”

But the budget surplus widened last month mainly as expenditures on public goods and services fell by 15.1 percent year-on-year to P221.8 billion.

“Part of the slower spending was still due to the four-month delay in the passage of the 2019 national budget, which constrained the government in implementing new programs and projects,” the Treasury explained.

The government operated using a reenacted 2018 budget during the first four months as legislators squabbled over “pork” funds.

It was only last April 15 that President Duterte finally signed the 2019 budget, after he vetoed P95.3 billion in projects that were not part of his administration’s priorities.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III had said the government was unable to spend P1 billion a day that ought to have had been disbursed at the start of the year.

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For the period January to April, underspending also narrowed the budget deficit by 96.8 percent to P3.4 billion from P105.9 billion in the same four-month period last year.

End-April expenditures declined 3.2 percent year-on-year to P999.8 billion, while revenues grew 7.4 percent to P996.4 billion.

For 2019, the government has programmed a budget-deficit cap of P624.4 billion—equivalent to 3.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), in order to roll out more infrastructure projects.

A budget deficit meant that the government intended to spend more than the amount of tax and non-tax revenues it was expecting to collect.

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TAGS: budget surplus, Bureau of the Treasury, revenues
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