Aquino admin’s fiscal reforms, efficient spending ensure delivery of key services

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MANILA: Budget and Management Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said on Wednesday the efficient spending and fiscal reforms being implemented by the Aquino administration would ensure delivery of key services to the people.

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“Fiscal and budgetary reforms like the GAA (general appropriations act)-as-Release-Document policy allowed us to start our 2014 fiscal operations on a very strong note,” said Abad in a statement.

The National Government (NG) recorded a P40.2-billion budget deficit for March 2014, and P84.1-billion in the first quarter of the year which, according to economic managers, are well within the program.

According to the Department of Finance (DoF), the deficit was buoyed up by fast-growing revenues — with that of the Bureau of Customs growing 34.4 percent in March over the comparable period last year, the highest year-on-year collections growth rate registered since December 2010.

It said this is the first time the BoC experienced three consecutive months of growth rates above 20 percent. Total revenue collections likewise expanded by double-digits.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), on the other hand, collected P82.2 billion in March, representing a 10 percent collection growth over the same period last year. The total BIR collections as of end-March amounted to P264.7 billion, improving by 8.0 percent or P20.6 billion year-on-year.

“The year-on-year improvements we’re so far making on government spending are particularly obvious in the deficit and disbursement levels for March,” said Abad.

Actual disbursements amounted to P169.5 billion for March, which was 14 percent or P20.7 billion increase year-on-year.

Interest payments amounted to P30.8 billion, growing 20 percent year-on-year. According to the DOF, this was driven mainly by domestic payments, which grew 31 percent year-on-year on the account of: a P4.3 billion interest on a bond that pay coupon every March 31 had to be moved to April as the actual payment date fell on a Sunday, and borrowing costs of Treasury bills have been significantly higher in 2014.

Netting out interest payments, the primary deficit for March was recorded at P9.4 billion, which is 2.5 percent or P236 million lower than comparable figures last year, as stronger revenue collections more than offset the 13 percent rise in non-interest expenditure. This brings the primary balance for the first three months of the year to a surplus of P19 billion.

“Altogether, we expect more efficient spending in the coming months, so that agencies can implement their programs quickly and ensure that key services are promptly delivered to the public,” the DBM chief said. PNA

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