P28.8-B surplus trims budget gap

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The government recorded a P28.8-billion budget surplus in August on the back of double-digit revenue and expenditure gains, the Treasury bureau said on Friday.

Revenues for the month of August totaled P230.4 billion, up 10 percent year on year and pushing the eight-month tally to P1.6 trillion, which was also 8 percent higher compared to the same period last year.

Spending, on the other hand, grew by 14 percent to P201.6 billion in August. The Treasury said that higher spending from May to August particularly drove year-to-date expenditures to P1.778 trillion, a 10 percent increase.

“The robust increase in both revenues and expenditures in August 2017 is a welcome development given that much of the country’s near-term outlook is based on the government’s ability to expand public spending particularly on infrastructure,” Land Bank of the Philippines market economist Guian Angelo Dumalagan told The Manila Times.


“Considering the government’s resolve to push through with its ambitious infrastructure projects, public expenditures might continue to grow at a solid pace in the coming months,” he said.

August’s results trimmed the year-to-date budget shortfall to P176.2 billion from P205 billion at the end of July, which means the government needs to ramp up spending if it is to meet the 2017 deficit target of P478.1 billion.

Bulk from taxes

Tax revenues accounted for 91 percent of total collections, the Treasury bureau said.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) netted P171.7 billion in August, 9 percent higher than last year. At P1.158 trillion, January to August revenues were also 9 percent better year on year.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC), meanwhile, posted a 16 percent gain by collecting P38.3 billion. This brought the eight-month total to P283.6 billion, allowing the agency to record an 11 percent increase.

Rounding out tax revenues for the August was P2.4 billion in contributions from other offices.

Non-tax earnings

The Treasury bureau accounted for the bulk of non-tax revenues, with the month’s earnings of P6.2 billion – up 6 percent year on year – boosted by a national government one-off remittance of P1.2 billion, representing its share in the profit of the Alabang Stock Farm Project.

This offset lower income from Bond Sinking Fund/Securities Stabilization Fund transactions, the Treasury said.

The bureau’s January to August earnings totaled P67.4 billion, down 14 percent and attributed to lower dividends and rationalization of the Bond Sinking Fund and national government cash holdings.
The 2017 target of P58.6 billion, however, has already been surpassed, the Treasury said.
Non-tax collections from other offices, lastly added P11.9 billion for the month.

Loan payments up

Government expenditures were not broken down by the Treasury bureau but it said that interest payments for August were up 12 percent to P26.4 billion. This was attributed to higher foreign payments, particularly P2.4 billion in interest on Samurai bonds that was paid in advance as the original schedule of payment fell on a holiday.

Year-to-date, total interest payments rose by 2 percent to P222.6 billion.

Excluding interest payments from expenditures, the government returned to a primary surplus of P55.2 billion for August following successive primary deficits from May to July. The year-to-date primary balance also returned to a surplus of P46.4 billion, down 41 percent from the P78.8 billion posted a year earlier.

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