By CHINO S. LEYCO
The inter-agency Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) expects a narrower budget deficit this year owing to lower disbursements following the delayed approval of the general appropriations act (GAA).
Data from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) showed that President Duterte’s economic managers are forecasting a ₱610 billion fiscal gap in 2019, slightly lower compared with an earlier ceiling of ₱620 billion.
But despite the slight downward adjustment, the budget deficit, as a percentage of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), remained at 3.2 percent.
According to the DBM data, the full-year 2019 revenues may hit ₱3.147 trillion, while expenditures could reach ₱3.757 trillion.
The DBCC’s latest expenditure program is marginally lower compared with ₱3.77-billion target earlier set by the economic team.
But at end-October, the actual budget gap only amounted to ₱348.3 billion, equivalent to just 57.1 percent of the full-year program.
To meet this year’s ceiling, the national government needs to disburse ₱261.8 billion in November and December.
Earlier, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said they were confident that the national government will hit its spending program this year despite the setback caused by the delayed passage of the budget and the election ban.
Dominguez said the government was on track to disburse its ₱3.769 trillion budget for the year, noting the spending has already gained momentum in recent months particularly in September.
“To attain this target, the government needs to disburse ₱1.14 trillion or 30 percent this fourth quarter. Based on the updates of our main infrastructure agencies, we are confident that we are going to hit our spending target this year,” Dominguez told reporters.
President Duterte’s economic development cluster, chaired by Dominguez, in October met where discussions mainly focused on the ₱725-billion catch-up spending plan to compensate for the nearly fourth-month delay of the 2019 general appropriations.
As of September, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), headed by Secretary Mark A. Villar, reported to the EDC that ₱424.7 billion of the catch-up spending program were already disbursed.
Villar then assured the EDC members that the remaining ₱300.3 billion will be disbursed as planned in the final three-months of the year.
Dominguez particular noted that the DPWH is implementing reforms to effectively address right away issues and accelerate implementation of big ticket projects.
Among the main projects that the DPWH expects to inaugurate this year are the Central Luzon link Express project phase one, the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, Ciudad de Victoria interchange overpass bridge and the bypass road in Bulacan.
The Department of Transport (DOTr) also reported that of its ₱82 billion spending commitment this year, it has disbursed ₱43.7 billion as of September 3 and the agency expects the remaining ₱51.37 billion will be fulfilled this quarter.
Data from the Department of Budget and Management showed that infrastructure and other capital outlay in January to September amounted to ₱546.3 billion, or about 92 percent of the ₱594 billion program.
Meanwhile, Dominguez said that the national government will not exceed its 3.2 percent budget deficit ceiling this year.