Gov’t tops collection, public spending targets

Published April 23, 2018, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Chino S. Leyco

The Duterte administration surpassed its public spending program in the first three months of the year, boosting the government’s confidence that the country’s economy likely grew at around seven percent in the first quarter.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said yesterday that the government’s two main tax agencies exceeded their collection targets in the quarter ending March, while expenditures also breached the ceiling during the period.

But despite the above-programmed spending, Dominguez said that the Duterte administration’s budget deficit at end-March this year remained below the ceiling by P57.9 billion.

Citing a preliminary report submitted to him by National Treasury Rosalia V. de Leon, Dominguez said the government incurred a P162.2-billion fiscal deficit in January to March.

The end-March figure provided by Dominguez was wider than the P82.97- billion financing gap registered in the same period last year.

Based on first quarter data, the government had a budget deficit of P110.7 billion in March, Reuters calculations showed, wider than the P23.7 billion in February and P61.5 billion in the same period last year.

The finance minister attributed the Duterte administration’s manageable budget deficit on “good revenue performance.”

Meanwhile, Dominguez said that government expenditures were higher by P26.2 billion against its program.

The finance secretary, however, did not provide the government’s expenditure target for the first-quarter.

On the other hand, Dominguez said the Bureau of the Internal Revenue (BIR) exceeded its target by P61.3 billion in the first-quarter, while the Bureau of Customs surpassed its goal by P307 million.

Sought for comment, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said that the above-target spending of the national government should provide the additional boost to support the country’s economic performance in the first three-months of 2018.

Pernia believes that the economy, as measured by the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), likely to “skirt around 7.0 percent” at end-March, faster than the 6.5 percent expansion rate in the fourth quarter of 2017.

“That’s going to be additional stimulus to economic growth,” Pernia told reporters when about his reaction to the first-quarter fiscal data. “We expect, at least hope that the first quarter GDP growth rate would at least touch 7.0 ercent or skirt around 7.0 percent.”

Official March budget balance data will be released today, the Bureau of the Treasury said, while GDP figures will be released on May 10.