Govt posts P15-B surplus in Aug

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Budget swings from P32.2-B deficit in July

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The budget balance swung back to a surplus in August, narrowing the year-to-date gap and keeping the government well behind its 2015 deficit target.

An analyst said the result would still have a positive contribution to third quarter economic growth. A Cabinet official, meanwhile, touted the government’s fiscal management efforts.

Finance department data put the August budget surplus at P15 billion, a reversal from July’s P32.2-billion deficit. It was lower than the P29.9-billion surplus also recorded a year earlier.

Disbursements reached P161.6 billion against total revenues of P176.6 billion.

Year to date, the budget deficit narrowed to P3.4 billion, well below the P197.2 billion targeted for the period and the year’s P283.7-billion goal.

Total revenues for January-August hit P1.440 trillion versus expenditures of P1.444 trillion

An analyst said state spending, “while lower than what we have wished for”, would help compensate for the El Nino weather phenomenon’s drag on gross domestic product (GDP).

“While lower than what we have wished for, this will still contribute positively to growth in the Philippines in the third quarter if 2015 GDP print,” Bank of the Philippine Islands lead economist Emilio Neri Jr. said.

“We hope the September print will be much more robust to ensure that national government spending still pulls up the third quarter GDP to above 6 percent and help the Philippines distinguish itself further from the rest of our emerging market peers,” he added.

“If we see the same disappointing spending print in September, we will have to revise our fiscal year 2015 growth forecast for the second time this year.”

BPI trimmed its 2015 growth forecast for the Philippines to 6.2 percent from 6.5 percent following the first half result of 5.3 percent.

Disbursements by the national government for August expanded by 15 percent from a year ago.

Interest payments dropped by 20 percent to P16.5 billion, while other expenditures surged 21 percent to P145.2 billion.

Total revenue for the month rose 4 percent, with the Bureau of Internal Revenue accounting for the bulk at P138.5 billion, up 9 percent.

The Bureau of Customs generated P26.9 billion, lower by 7 percent. The Bureau of the Treasury posted a hefty 49 percent decline in collections to P2.7 billion, while collections by other offices rose 6 percent to P8.5 billion.

In primary terms, which exclude interest payments on foreign and domestic debt issues, the government recorded a surplus of P31.5 billion in August, down from the yearago surplus of P50.5 billion.

Year-to-date, the primary balance stood at a surplus of P222 billion, higher than the P202 billion posted a year earlier.

In a statement accompanying the data, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the latest fiscal data burnished the country’s “credentials as one of Asia’s safest and strongest.”

“The Filipino people benefit from a better fiscal position: the better we can resist the turns of the tides in volatile times, the better we can chart the path for our own future,” he added.

“We refuse to turn back the clock on our reforms. As the curtains start closing towards the end of six straight years of transformation, we leave confident that institutionalizing good governance has given the economy our most valuable investment.”

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