Philippine economy
Lawmakers’ failure to pass the 2019 national budget on time and the election ban on public works froze new projects early this year, weighing on economic growth in the first quarter.
The STAR/Miguel De Guzman
Government posts P2.6-B budget surplus in May
( - June 25, 2019 - 1:26pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government posted a budget surplus in May driven by strong revenue collection that outpaced a rebound in public spending following the delayed approval of the 2019 national budget, the Bureau of the Treasury reported Tuesday.

The state’s budget balance in May swung to a surplus of P2.6 billion, a reversal of P32.9 billion deficit recorded in the same month in 2018.

A budget deficit means the government spent more than it earned, while the surplus means otherwise.

The May outturn brought the five-month tally to a deficit of P809 million, far lower than P138.7 billion gap chalked up in the comparative period last year. This was “mainly caused by the delay in the approval of the 2019 budget,” the BTr said.

Lawmakers’ failure to pass the 2019 national budget on time and the election ban on public works froze new projects early this year, weighing on economic growth in the first quarter.

The budget bill was signed into law in mid-April. Meanwhile, public works as well as the hiring and movement of government workers were prohibited from March 29 to May 12 due to the May 13 midterm elections.

According to the BTr, revenue collections in May amounted to P317.2 billion, 22.5% higher than a year ago “as a result of improved collections by major revenue generating agencies.”

The Bureau of Internal Revenue raised P204.8 billion last month, up 19.1% year-on-year. Meanwhile, duties generated by the Bureau of Customs hit P58.2 billion, surpassing the P52.7 billion posted in the same month last year by 10.3%.

Spending recovers

On the other hand, the government disbursed P314.7 billion last month, up 7.8% year-on-year and was a recovery from the contraction registered in the previous months.

“Expansion for the period was attributed to the implementation of the last tranche of salary increase of government personnel, release of mid-year bonus, and the execution of new programs in line with the approval of the 2019 [budget] in mid-April,” the treasury bureau said.

The Duterte government has been pushing for a wider budget gap to accommodate heightened infrastructure spending, particularly big-ticket projects in its “Build, Build, Build” program.

For 2019, the state has set a wider deficit ceiling at P624.4 billion (3.2% of gross domestic product).

The state’s economic managers vowed to speed up the execution of delayed projects, adding they were working on a “carefully crafted and bold expenditure catch-up plan to enable us to hit a GDP growth rate of above 6% this year.” — Ian Nicolas Cigaral

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