Govt budget gap widens in Feb

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THE budget deficit of the national government widened sharply to P34.62 billion in February from single digits in January this year and February of last year, as increases in disbursements and interest payments far outpaced revenue collections, data released by the Department of Finance (DOF) showed on Tuesday.

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Comparative budget gaps stood at only P3.47 billion in January and P9.67 billion in February 2015.

In February 2016, national government expenditure grew to P173.57 billion, exceeding revenues of P138.95 billion. Meanwhile, interest payments increased 13 percent.

In primary terms, which exclude interest payments on foreign and domestic debt, the government posted a deficit of P13.3 billion in February, a reversal of P9.2 billion a year-ago surplus.

2-month tally widens

The February budget performance brought the year-to-date deficit to P38.1 billion, wider than the P16.14 gap in the first two months last year.

Total January to February 2016 disbursements hit P359.27 billion while revenues totaled P321.17 billion.

The primary surplus of P28.8 billion in the two-month period dropped 47 percent from P54.1 billion a year ago.

Revenues increase
The Finance Department noted that February revenues were up 5 percent from a year earlier, pushing the year-to-date increase to 7 percent.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) collected P94.8 billion, 7 percent higher than in February 2015 and taking its two-month tally to P224.5 trillion, a 7-percent increase from the same period a year ago.

“Our financial position remains healthy. Amid an uncertain global environment, maintaining a firm fiscal position is more important than ever,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said in a statement.

The Bureau of Customs, meanwhile, collected P27 billion, down 1 percent from last year, taking its January to February tally to P58.1 billion.

The Finance department said that even as collections on oil for the first two months of 2016 shrank by 17 percent on the back of lower oil prices, BOC collections increased 3 percent for the two-month period, owing in large part to respectable non-oil collections growth of 6.5 percent.

The Bureau of the Treasury contributed P5.8 billion in February, taking its year-to-date total to P13.8 billion, a 3 percent increase. Collections by other offices rose 27 percent to P24.8 billion in February.

Double-digit spending increase
National government disbursements expanded by 22 percent in February to P173.6 billion from a year ago.

Interest payments climbed 13 percent to P21.3 billion, while other expenditures rose 23 percent to P152.3 billion.

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