Public spending was not fast enough to surpass government revenues in April, paving the way to a P52.6-billion budget surplus that tilted the fiscal balance in the first four months toward positive territory.
Data from the Department of Finance (DOF) released Thursday showed government expenditure of P156 billion in April, against total revenues of P209 billion.
This is proof that the government is unable to spend enough, according to an analyst.
“This administration has been crowing about pump-priming [the economy]ever since 2012 and we’ve been disappointed at every turn,” said Nicholas Mapa, associate economist at the Bank of the Philippines Islands.
With the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scrutinized by the public, the government has not been able to boost spending and provide the kind of stimulus the economy needs, Mapa noted.
This was what happened in the first quarter of 2015, the economist said. The government failed to disburse what should have been spent, which resulted in a slowdown in economic growth to 5.2 percent.
Mapa is not optimistic the government will be able to hit its spending goals in the last 12 months of the Aquino Administration.
“Their inability to spend the funds extracted from the public is truly confounding, as funds squeezed out from the public have not been spent in projects that have improved the quality of life nor increased efficiency in the medium term. Sure we can post a deficit, but it may be well behind target,” he said.
The DOF said the P52.6-billion surplus was 35-percent narrower than the P80.9-billion recorded a year earlier.
Total revenues in April reached P209.1 billion, down 7 percent from the P224.4 billion a year earlier.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) raised P160.8 billion, continuing its positive monthly growth for the year, albeit at a slower pace of 3 percent.
Collections from the Bureau of Customs (BOC), however, contracted by 9 percent or P 2.6 billion year-on-year.
Income generated and collected by the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) amounted to P11.6 billion, down 62 percent or P19.3 billion.
“Part of the slowdown is attributed to dividend collections from GOCCs (government-owned and –controlled corporations) remitted in March instead of April,” the DOF said.
Investment income declined 49 percent or P4.4 billion yearonyear, as the national government reduced its bond holdings.
Expenditure in April totaled P156.1 billion, up 9 percent from P143.6percent in April 2014.
Interest payments increased by 17 percent from a year earlier due to the timing of last the payments in April 2014 that were recorded the following month—causing a lowbase effect, the DOF said.
In the four months to April, revenues reached P679 billion while expenditures totaled P660 billion.
This resulted in a budget surplus of P19.1 billion in the first four months of 2015, reversing the P3.3- billion deficit in the same period in 2014.
In terms of the primary budget, which excludes interest payments on foreign and domestic debt issues, the DOF data showed that the government recorded a P68.3 billion primary surplus in April, down 28 percent the surplus a year earlier.
This brought the primary surplus to P135.4 billion in the yeartodate, up 20 percent from P113.3 in the first four months of 2014.
The continued expansion of fiscal space can support the growing spending needs of a booming economy, the DOF said in a statement, issued along with the figures.
“The reforms we have painstakingly put in place are showing results in due time. We are working hard to—one can perhaps say—put a 6th R to our spending philosophy: we want to spend on the right project, with the right quality, with the right people, at the right time, at the right cost, and at the right pace,” it said.