By Chino S. Leyco
Public expenditures contracted in April this year despite the Duterte administration’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program that aims to fast-track spending on big-ticket infrastructure projects.
Along with spending, government revenues also fell during the month due to anemic collections of the government’s two main tax agencies. But despite this, the Duterte administration still managed to register a sizeable budget surplus.
Data from the Bureau of the Treasury showed that the national government saw its total expenditures dropping by four percent to P183.1 billion in April from P191.6 billion in the same month in 2016.
Government revenues, likewise, declined during the month by four percent to P235.9 billion from P246.6 billon in the previous year, the Treasury document revealed.
The national government registered a P52.8-billion budget surplus in April, lower by four percent compared with P55 billion in the previous year.
Based on the Treasury report, the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) tax collection rose at a slower pace of six percent to P187.7 billion from P177.7 billion last year, while income of “other offices” increased by 20 percent to P10 billion from P8.3 billion.
On the other hand, revenue collection of the Bureau of Customs contracted by five percent to P31.1 billion from P32.7 billion a year ago, while the Treasury bureau’s non-tax income also decreased by 75 percent to P7.1 billion from last year’s P28 billion.
Earlier, President Duterte unveiled his “Build, Build, Build” program, an ambitious development plan that will require some P8 trillion in infrastructure spending, mostly to be sourced from the national budget but will also need a huge foreign component.
The government plans to spend P3.6 trillion in the next three years under its “build, build, build” program. It will cover more than 60 big-ticket projects, including a subway system.
In the first four-months of the year, the national government incurred a budget deficit of P30.2 billion, down 47 percent compared with P57.5 billion in the same period last year.
Revenues at end-April stood at P768.3 billion, up by six percent from P725.6 billion a year ago. Of that amount, tax revenues totalled P699.5 billion, while non-tax income reached P68.8 billon.
The BIR’s total collection amounted to P558.1 billion as of April, up by 10 percent year-on-year from P507.8 billion, and Customs’ revenues also jumped 10 percent to P135.3 billion from P123.2 billion.
Meanwhile, government spending grew by only two percent in January to April from P783.1 billion to P798.4 billion. Of the total, interest payments cornered P111.3 billion, while “others” got P687.1 billion.
The Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) earlier raised the deficit ceiling to 3.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) this year.
The higher deficit ceiling aimed to raise spending on infrastructure, human capital and social protection, as part of President Duterte’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda to sustain high growth and make its benefits trickle down to all Filipinos.