In its latest cash operations report, the BTr said the national government’s budget surplus jumped by nearly 88 percent to P86.9 billion in April from P46.3 billion in the same period last year.
Michael Varcas
Fiscal surplus widens to P86.9 B in April
Mary Grace Padin (The Philippine Star) - May 25, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The national government booked a wider fiscal surplus in April amid lower spending due to the delay in the passage of the 2019 budget, according to the Bureau of the Treasury.

In its latest cash operations report, the BTr said the national government’s budget surplus jumped by nearly 88 percent to P86.9 billion in April from P46.3 billion in the same period last year.

The hefty surplus recorded in April helped in narrowing the country’s year-to-date fiscal deficit to only P3.4 billion as of end-April from P105.9 billion a year ago.

A fiscal surplus occurs when the government generates more revenues that the funds it spends, while a deficit is incurred when disbursements exceed revenues.

BTr data showed that government revenues for April alone rose slightly by 0.4 percent, but expenditures declined by 15.1 percent, resulting in the higher fiscal surplus.

Revenues, in particular, inched up to P308.7 billion from P307.6 billion in the same month in 2018, according to the Treasury.

This resulted in aggregate revenues of P996.4 billion in the first four months, 7.4 percent higher compared to the P927.4 billion in revenue recorded in the same period a year ago. 

The BTr said tax collections accounted for 90.8 percent of the total revenues in April, while the remaining 9.2 percent came from non-tax sources.

Collections of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), amounted to P235.5 billion, 1.2 percent up from P232.6 billion in 2018. This improved BIR’s year-to-date revenues  by 7.3 percent to P703.7 billion from P655.7 billion as of end-April last year.

The Bureau of Customs also increased its collections last April by 10.4 percent to P51.7 billion from P46.8 billion in 2018. Cumulatively, BOC’s revenues have grown by 9.6 percent year-on-year, reaching P193.5 billion.

“The agency’s strong performance for the period was attributed to its stringent monitoring and continuing efforts to enhance revenue-collection capabilities and intensified control measures against undervaluation, misdeclaration and other forms of technical smuggling,” the Treasury said.

On the other hand, income generated by the BTr went down by 26.5 percent to P10.5 billion in April due mainly from lower collections of dividends on shares of stocks held by the government.

Other non-tax collections likewise declined by 24.7 percent to P9.3 billion.

Meanwhile, the BTr said government disbursements in April declined by 15.1 percent to P221.8 billion from P261.2 billion in the same month last year.

“Part of the slower spending was still due to the four-month delay in the passage of the 2019 national budget which constrained the government in implementing new programs and projects,” the BTr said.

Interest payments reached P23.5 billion in April, up slightly from a year ago due to coupon payment for T-bonds issued last year. The remaining P198.3 billion was used for primary expenditures, which contracted by 16.7 percent year-on-year. 

From January to April, total expenditures dropped by 3.2 percent to P999.8 billion from P1.033 trillion in the same four-month period in 2018.

Excluding interest payments, the national government’s primary surplus reached P110.4 billion in April, 58.9 percent higher than last year’s level of P69.5 billion. The BTr said this resulted in a year-to-date primary surplus of P127.9 billion, wider compared to the P14.5 billion registered in the first four months of 2018.

Economic managers have capped the government’s fiscal deficit ceiling at 3.2 percent of GDP for 2019, higher than last year’s ceiling of three percent. This translates to a nominal deficit figure of P631.5 billion.

For the first three months, the deficit narrowed to P90.2 billion, equivalent to 2.1 percent of GDP.

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