By CHINO S. LEYCO
The proposed supplemental budget for the year received a lukewarm reception from the Department of Finance (DOF) given the weak revenue collections of the national government.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said that asking for more appropriations from Congress, on top of the ₱4.1-trillion approved 2020 national budget, also requires counterpart revenue collection.
“We have been very careful about asking for supplemental budget because actually we don’t have supple¬mental revenue,” Dominguez told reporters in an interview at the DOF headquarters.
In the first quarter, tax collections only reached ₱600.86 billion, below by 20.63 percent or ₱156.26 billion against the ₱757.12-billion target for the period, and ₱10.17 billion lower than the collections in the same period in 2019.
To bridge the gap between revenues and spending requirement for 2020, the national government has been aggressively tapping local and foreign creditors for funds as well as multilateral and bilateral partners.
For this reason, Dominguez said it is more prudent to just reallocate this year’s budget appropriations instead of asking for additional spending authority.
“We will strive to live within the ₱4.1-trillion budget this year and so far we’ve been okay with that,” the finance chief said.
Amid government’s dwindling funds, presidential spokesman Harry Roque earlier said they hope Congress will cooperate in case the President requests for an additional budget to augment the resources needed for responding to the national health emergency.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III was amenable to Roque’s appeal, saying they are prepared to deliberate the additional budget proposal once the chamber received a formal request from the executive branch.
Dominguez had said the country is fighting COVID-19 from a position of financial strength, noting the economy was growing at a steady rapid pace up to 2019, credit ratings are investment grade, revenues increased, and the debt level is low.
While Dominguez admitted that the coronavirus definitely dragged down the economy this year, he still assured the country is in a “good position to take this hit from this COVID problem.”
To counter these economic threats, Dominguez said the national government has to borrow around $5.7 billion to bridge the gap between its reduced revenues and required spending level.