NG exceeds budget deficit ceiling in 2019

Published February 27, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin


The Duterte administration overshot its budget deficit ceiling last year after government spending surpassed its program while tax collections fell below target, data from the Bureau of the Treasury showed yesterday.

The Treasury bureau reported that the national government incurred a ₱660.2-billion fiscal gap in January to December last year, higher by 6.5 percent compared with the program of ₱620 billion for full-year 2019.

The Treasury explained the higher-than-expected budget deficit was due to “catch-up” spending of government agencies in the final months of the year.
“Expenditures sped up despite the delay in the approval of the 2019 budget as line agencies caught up with spending towards the latter part of the year,” the Treasury said in a statement.

The actual budget gap in 2019 is equivalent to 3.55 percent of the economy, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), higher than the 3.25 percent target.
Likewise, last year’s budget gap is more than by 18 percent compared with ₱558.3 billion in 2018, accounting for only 3.2 percent of GDP.

In December alone, the budget deficit accelerated by over twofold to ₱251.1 billion from only ₱81 billion in the same month in the previous year.

Meanwhile, total public spending amounted to ₱3.798 trillion in 2019, more than by ₱28.1 billion against the program of ₱3.7769 trillion. Year-on-year, it is also higher by 11 percent from ₱3.408 trillion.

In particular, the Treasury said that government expenditures jumped by 58 percent in December alone last year to ₱494.4 billion from ₱313.3 billion a year ago.

The high spending in December is “backed by strong infrastructure spending of the DPWH [Department of Public Works and Highways and] implementation of social protection programs and services of the DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development],” the Treasury said.

The bureau added that personnel services expenditures with the grant of the Service Recognition Incentive, payment of pension and retirement benefits, as well as requirements for the creation and filling of positions in various agencies also boosted spending in December.

Amid above program public spending, government revenues, however, were short of the ₱3.150-trillion target by ₱12.2 billion to ₱3.137 trillion owing to weak tax collections.

In 2019, the national government’s total tax take reached ₱2.828 trillion, lower by 4.3 percent compared with the ₱2.955 trillion goal.

Both the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs failed to hit their targets by 4.2 percent and 4.6 percent last year, respectively.

On the other hand, non-tax revenues exceeded the goal of ₱194.2 billion by 59 percent to ₱309.7 billion.

To recall, the inter-agency Development Budget Coordination Committee even narrowed its budget deficit ceiling last year to just ₱610 billion due to lower disbursements as of October 2019.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III had even assured that the national government will not exceed its 3.2 percent budget deficit ceiling last year.