Philippine Daily Inquirer

Gov’t spending surged in Sept

But 9-month total still below program

- By Ben O. de Vera @bendeverai­nq

Government spending surged 39.01 percent year-on-year to P415.1 billion in September to make up for the late approval of this year’s budget, but actual expenditur­es on public goods and services in the first nine months remained below program such that the endseptemb­er budget deficit shrank by a fifth.

Data released by the Bureau of the Treasury data showed that the national government’s disburseme­nts last month posted the fastest growth rate so far this year, climbing from P298.6 billion a year ago.

In a statement, the Treasury said the government “continued to catch up with its spending plan for the year where 71.2 percent of the P3.769-trillion full-year program had to be disbursed by end-september despite the delay in the passage of the 2019 budget and the election ban at the earlier part of the year.”

Between January and

September, total expenditur­es grew 5.51 percent to P2.627 trillion from P2.489 trillion during the same nine-month period last year.

However, Treasury data showed that actual disburseme­nts were 2.14-percent lower than the P2.685-trillion program for the January to September period.

Meanwhile, tax and non-tax revenues collected in September alone rose 16.89 percent to P236.5 billion from P202.4 billion a year ago.

As such, the national government posted a budget deficit of P178.6 billion in September, 85.52-percent wider than the P96.2-billion deficit posted during the same month last year.

But for the first nine months, the cumulative budget deficit of P299 billion narrowed by 20.95 percent from P378.2 billion a year ago, as the increase in expenditur­es was outpaced by the faster 10.25-percent growth in revenue collection.

The end-september fiscal deficit was also narrower by 18.03 percent compared with the programmed P364.7-billion deficit for the period.

January to September revenue totaled P2.328 trillion, up 10.25 percent from P2.112 trillion in 2018 and 0.35-percent higher than the programmed P2.319 trillion targeted to be collected during the first nine months.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue’s tax take amounted P1.603 trillion as of September, up 10.98 percent year-on-year but 4.25percent below its nine-month target of P1.674 trillion.

The Bureau of Customs’ endseptemb­er collection­s of import duties and other taxes increased 8.15 percent year-on-year to P470 billion, but also missed its goal of P481.1 billion by 2.29 percent.

The Cabinet-level, interagenc­y Developmen­t Budget Coordinati­on Committee earlier programmed a wider budget-deficit ceiling of P624.4 billion equivalent to 3.2 percent of gross domestic product for 2019, as the government had wanted to jack up expenditur­es on bigticket infrastruc­ture.

However, the govern

ment underspent P1 billion per month during the first four months as it used reenacted 2018 appropriat­ions.

As legislator­s squabbled over alleged “pork” funds ahead of the May 13 midterm polls, President Duterte signed the P3.7-trillion 2019 budget only in mid-april.

No thanks to government underspend­ing, economic growth slowed to 5.5 percent in the first semester, underneath the government’s 6-7 percent target band.

But the economic team had expressed optimism that the government could hit its 2019 budget-deficit program and reverse the disappoint­ing firsthalf GDP expansion by fasttracki­ng the rollout of major infrastruc­ture projects for the rest of the year.

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