By Chino S. Leyco
The national government vowed to further accelerate to the double-digit spending growth pace registered in January this year as the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) believes the expansion saw during the month was “a little slow.”
Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said the 15 percent year-on-year growth in public spending in the first-month of the year was still slow, noting the government is looking at raising the disbursements level close to 20 percent.
“The growth rate was still slow for me because our budget this year compared with 10 years ago has quadrupled. We’re also making up for the past neglect,” Diokno told reporters, noting the government’s average spending-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio was only at 2.6 percent.
According to Diokno, the Duterte administration has already addressed the historical snail’s pace level of expenditures, citing the government’s spending ratio is now at 6.1 percent of the country’s economy.
For February, the budget chief said that spending will be stronger than the previous month’s 15 percent annual increase.
“Yes it will be higher than 15 percent not just of the salary adjustment,” Diokno said when asked about his assessment of the government’s February budget disbursements.
With strong public spending, Diokno expressed confidence the government’s economic growth expansion of around seven percent to eight percent this year is attainable.
Last week, the Bureau of the Treasury reported that government revenues surpassed the growth pace of public spending in the first month of the year following the implementation of the first tax reform law. The Duterte administration posted a budget surplus of P10.2 billion in January this year, more than a threefold increase compared with P2.2 billion last year.
State revenues jumped 19 percent during the month to P238.9 billion from P200.3 billion a year before. Of that amount, tax collections rose 18 percent to P217.8 billion, while non-taxes accelerated by 35 percent to P21.1 billion.
“All major collecting agencies of the government posted positive year-on-year growth, leading to higher total revenues,” the Treasury said. “The growth was mainly driven by the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law which took effect on January 1 2018.”
Government expenditures, on the other hand, increased by 15 percent in January to P228.7 billion from P198.1 billion. Of that amount, interest payments cornered P43.5 billion, up by three percent from P42.4 billion in 2017.
Other disbursements, meanwhile, amounted to P185.2 billion in January, up by 19 percent compared with P155.7 billion a year before.