PH gov't records P15B surplus in August

MANILA, Philippines Despite heightened efforts to rev up infrastructure spending, the national government’s budget balance in August 2015 was at a surplus of P15 billion ($321 million), the Department of Finance (DOF) reported Thursday, October 1.

This brings the year-to-date balance to a deficit of P3.4 billion ($72.75 million), the DOF said.

A surplus, considered as a sign that government is being run efficiently, might be used to pay off debt, save for the future, or to make a desired purchase.

Data from the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) showed that the government's budget surplus for the month is 50% below the year-ago level of P29.9 billion ($639.99 million).

For the first 7 months of 2015, the government incurred a deficit of P3.4 billion ($72.75 million), significantly lower than the programmed deficit of P197.2 billion ($4.22 billion) for January to August this year.

For the full year, the government has a deficit ceiling of P283.7 billion ($6.07 billion).

The expenditure for August totaled to P161.6 billion ($3.46 billion), 11% below the target of P182 billion ($3.90 billion). Without interest payments, expenditures grew by 21% to P145.2 billion ($3.11 billion) in August.

Government expenditures totaled P1.44 trillion ($30.90 billion) for the first 7 months of the year, 15% below target, while total revenue amounted to P1.44 trillion ($30.90 billion), 4% lower than programmed.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad earlier said that disbursements in the last few months of 2015 can grow by at least 10% year-on-year, especially since the funds are supposed to be obligated before the election ban starts in February 2016.

"Traditionally, the second semester is better than the first semester, especially the last quarter of the year," Abad said.

Lower revenue collection

The total revenue collection also fell below the P209.3 billion ($4.48 billion) target by 16%, with revenue amounting to P176.7 billion ($3.78 billion) in August, up by 4% from 2014.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) missed its program by 25%, while the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) fell below target by 14%.

The BOC raised P26.9 billion ($575.58 million) in August, bringing its January-August revenues to P235.6 billion ($5.04 billion). Even as weighted average values of imported oil continue to sag with a 31% year-on-year decline, total Customs collections for January to August still beat year-ago figures by 1%, propelled by the 12% improvement in collections from non-oil commodities, the DOF said.

The BIR, meanwhile, hauled in P138.5 billion ($2.96 billion) for the month, 9% higher than year-ago figures. This brings its year-to date collections to P962.6 billion ($20.60 billion), growing 8% or P71.9 billion ($1.55 billion) from a year ago.

Meanwhile, income from the BTr amounted to P2.7 billion ($57.77 million) for August, pushing the year-to-date total to P83.9 billion ($1.80 billion), 11% higher than year-ago figures. BTr has exceeded its full-year target by 38%.

Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima said that sound fiscal management burnishes the country's credentials as one of Asia’s safest and strongest, a boon for investment and growth prospects. (READ: What will stimulate PH economy until 2050?)

"We refuse to turn back the clock on our reforms. As the curtains start closing towards the end of 6 straight years of transformation, we leave confident that institutionalizing good governance, has given the economy our most valuable investment," Purisima said.

$1 = P46.73