Aug surplus narrows 8-month budget gap

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The national government’s fiscal position registered a surplus in August as fast-paced expansion of revenue collections offset expenditures for the month, resulting in a narrower year-to-date budget deficit, the Department of Finance (DOF) said Thursday.

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Data released by the Bureau of the Treasury and the DOF showed that the government posted a P29.9 billion fiscal surplus in August, up 36 percent or P8 billion over the surplus recorded a year ago.

For the year-to-date, or until August, the government’s fiscal performance in August resulted in a lower cumulative budget shortfall of P25.9 billion, down 69 percent or P56.7 billion from comparable figures in 2013.

In terms of primary budget, which excludes interest payments on foreign and domestic debt issues recorded during the month as an indicator of the management of expenditures apart from debt servicing, the data showed that the government recorded a P50.5 billion primary surplus for August, bringing the cumulative primary surplus to P202.7 billion, exceeding the P146.3 billion primary surplus posted in the same period last year.

Based on the primary budget figures, the government had a P46.5 billion primary surplus for the month of July. In the year-to-date, cumulative primary surplus stood at P152.2 billion, or P46.1 billion higher than its level over the same period in 2013.

Improved revenue collection
Revenues for the month totaled to P170 billion, posting 10 percent year-on-year growth over the same month last year, with tax revenues contributing 93 percent of the total, the DOF said.

The Finance agency said the Bureau of Internal Revenue collected P127.6 billion for the month, reflecting 8 percent or P9.5 billion higher year-on-year growth. The Bureau of Customs brought in P29.1 billion, maintaining its monthly double-digit growth with an 11 percent year-on-year improvement in August.

Total Income of the Bureau of the Treasury amounted to P5.3 billion in August, a 54 percent year-on-year improvement due to higher investment income and better dividend collections.

Disbursements amounted to P140.1 billion in August, reflecting a 5 percent increase from comparable figures last year.

Interest payments for August increased by 13 percent year-on-year due to higher domestic payments that offset the contraction in external interest payments, the DOF data said.

It added that in eight months to August, interest payments’ share to revenues had dropped to 18.0 percent from 20.1 percent last year. Also, interest payments as a percentage of expenditures dipped to 17.6 percent from 18.7 percent last year.

“Improved revenue collection and proactive liability management continues to allow us to service debt obligations efficiently,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said in a statement.

Purisima added that the government has been determined in mapping out a solution to port congestion in Manila to further augment growth of the Philippine economy.

“The Department of Finance Chief Economist Gil Beltran states that if port congestion is solved and delayed shipments are out of our ports within this year, our annual tax collection can increase by as much as an estimated 7 percent or 0.2 percentage points of GDP [gross domestic product],” Purisima said.

For this year, the government has set a cap on the budget deficit at 2 percent of GDP, or P266 billion.

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